Sabre Dance in a Café
by Jean-Léon Gerôme
About the Artist & the Painting
This painting was created during the Orientalist movement of art in the 19th century. The artist, Jean-Léon Gerôme, was probably the most famous and most prolific artist of the era. This painting dates to about 1876.
Unlike some of the other artists during the Orientalist era, Gerôme actually spent some time living in Egypt and created many paintings of Egyptian everyday life.
This picture served as the inspiration for U.S. dancers in the 1960's to begin experimenting with sword dances, particularly those involving balancing the sword.
No tradition of such dancing survived in Egypt into the 20th century to become a part of Egyptian-style Oriental dance as we know it today. There are some martial-arts oriented sword dances in the Near East, which are done by men, but no women's balancing-type sword dances like the one in this painting.
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