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The Myth of the Orient

Architecture and Ornament in the Age of Orientalism

Edited By Francine Giese and Ariane Varela Braga

This volume commemorates the 160th anniversary of the Selamlik of Oberhofen Castle near Thun – one of the most significant Swiss Orientalist interiors, designed by the Bernese architect Theodor Zeerleder (1820–1868) – by presenting the latest research on the spectacular smoking room inspired by the luxurious reception halls in Cairo, which Zeerleder discovered during his travels to the East. At the same time, this collection of essays explores the significance of the famous city on the Nile as a privileged model for 19th-century architecture and ornamentation, bringing together papers by Mercedes Volait (Paris), Romain Siegenfuhr (Paris), Richard Parisot (Besançon), Elke Pflugradt-Abdel Aziz (Düsseldorf), Tarek Ibrahim (Berlin), Vincenza Garofalo (Palermo), Andrea Lermer (München), Rémi Labrusse (Paris), Ariane Varela Braga (Zürich), Leïla el-Wakil (Genève), Francine Giese (Zürich) and Annette Loeffel (Bern).

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Mamluk Reproductions: Survey and Analysis of Tombs in the Cemetery of Sant’Orsola in Palermo



This contribution presents a study of various funeral chapels found in the cemetery of Sant’Orsola in Palermo. Realised during the 19th and 20th centuries, they can be taken as examples of Sicilian Orientalism1. The medieval revival in Sicily has always been extremely heterogeneous: in some cases, it borrowed the forms of canonical Italian Gothic, in others those of the Sicilian 14th century Gothic, the Sicilian-Norman style2 or the Islamic style of the 9th and 10th centuries. The revival expressed itself, frequently and in different styles, in the tombs where the taste of the times for works of architecture in miniature becomes evident. Funerary architecture is an artistic and architectural heritage of great interest. Tomb design was in fact an important aspect of the architectural profession. Chapels became a status symbol that served to testify, like private residences, the social rank as well as their concern in preserving their memory for posterity3. ← 95 | 96 →

Commissioned in 1783 by the viceroy Domenico Caracciolo, Santo Spirito was the first public cemetery in Sicily, built in the area of the unfinished convent of Santo Spirito (11th century)4. The chosen site was situated in open countryside in accordance to a new official policy that relegated cemeteries outside the urban walls. The cemetery is commonly referred to using the name of the patron saint of the Opera Pia, the charitable organisation that has cared for the cemetery since 1783, devoted to Sant’Orsola5. Along the avenue leading to...

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