Greater accessibility to the Orient and a vastly improved knowledge of its culture did little to diminish the many Western myths that had developed around this mysterious land. Travellers invariably visited these distant locations with Romantic preconceptions based on the visions of other Westerners. Even though many artists vistited the Orient repeatedly and for long durations, they still portrayed these locations similarly to artists such as Delacroix who, like other Orientalists, developed a long-lasting passion for the Islamic world merely on the basis of a single and relatively short stay in Morocco or Algeria.
Although Giulio Rosati never ventured East, he meticulously studied original photographs, engravings and objects that had become commonplace in most genre painters' studios throughout the fashionable artistic quarters in Rome. By doing so, he was able to recreate imaginary scenes with delicately-painted Oriental carpets, costumes, objects and architecture from the East and translate these into imaginative and tantalising paintings such as The Dance.
The present work demonstrates Rosati's close study of Turkish and Caucasian rugs. The wall is hung with an impressive 19th Century Kazak rug, numerous 19th Century Bordjalu and South Caucasian rugs, and richly embroidered cushions are spread over the vibrant Hispano-moresque tiles and carved plasterwork that recall the ornate halls of the Alhambra, Granada. The alluring ladies of the harem are exquisitely clothed in richly coloured silks and cloths, bejeweled with gold and silver bracelets, necklaces and earrings, while their beautiful Persian slippers are carelessly assembled at the edge of the carpet. The composition is completed with additional Islamic objects, such as hanging lamps, tables and hookahs, which together enhance the exotic sumptousness of this scene.