The Myth of the Orient. Architecture and Ornament in the Age of Orientalism

The Oberhofen Castle has one of the most significant Swiss Orientalist interiors: the smoking room (Selamlik) designed in 1855 by the Bernese architect Theodor Zeerleder (1820-1868), inspired by examples of the luxurious palaces in Cairo he discovered during his travels in the East.

In 2015, on the occasion of the 160th anniversary of the Selamlik, the Oberhofen Castle Foundation, in collaboration with the Institute of History of Art of the University of Zürich (Prof. Dr. Francine Giese), will organize an international congress. Entitled “The Myth of the Orient. Architecture and Ornament in the Age of Orientalism”, this event will present the latest research on neo-Islamic architecture and ornamentation, with a special focus on Cairo and, at an international level, on the discourse created in the age of Orientalism as well as the caricatured views of the Islamic world, still partially existing nowadays.

Three sections (Oriental Visions/Architecture/Ornament) will discuss topics such as the romantic visions of Cairo in the 19th century, the international exhibitions as promoters of a transfigured image of the Orient, early descriptions and reproductions of Cairo and its Islamic buildings, Islamic ornament in the neo-Islamic context and neo-Islamic architecture in Cairo or related to it.

In addition, the results of the latest scholarly research on the Selamlik in the Oberhofen Castle will be presented, together with the exhibition “The Myth of the Orient. A Bernese Architect in Cairo” that will provide the opportunity to discover the architect’s travel sketches, architectural drawings and watercolours, still largely unpublished, and for the first time accessible to a wider audience.

Keynote Speakers

Section Images: Mercedes Volait (InVisu/CNRS.INHA, Paris)
Section Architecture: Elke Pflugradt- Abdel Aziz (Düsseldorf)
Section Ornament: Rémi Labrusse (Université Paris Ouest-La Défense)


Version française

Share this page: