Inspired by the East

How the Islamic world influenced Western art


A broad view of the West’s complex relationship with the Middle East and North Africa, told through a selection of exquisite art objects.


ISBN: 9780714111933 Category:


The West has long had a fascination with the art and culture of the ‘Orient’. Covering a period from the late fifteenth century to the present day, Inspired by the East sheds light on the complex cultural exchange between these civilisations, which has generated a profusion of beautiful objects, perhaps most famously the Orientalist paintings and decorative arts of the nineteenth century.

Published to accompany a major exhibition at the British Museum in London and the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur, this richly illustrated book offers a new perspective on what the Islamic world has meant to Western artists, designers and thinkers. At the same time, instances of East looking West are explored, as artists in the Middle East and North Africa used and subverted the Orientalist gaze for their own purposes.

This fresh approach includes works of art by well-known Orientalist painters such as Eugène Delacroix, John Frederick Lewis and Ludwig Deutsch, as well as a wide range of decorative art, photography, books and ephemera. A collection of essays approaches the subject from a variety of viewpoints, investigating questions of authenticity, exoticism, intercultural connections and globalisation over five centuries.

Inspired by the East is a contemporary and original examination of the artistic encounters between East and West, revealing how European and North American visual arts were inspired by the Islamic world.

Additional information

Weight 1599 g
Dimensions 25.3 x 28.6 cm
Publisher name The British Museum Press
Publication date 1 January 2020
Number of pages
Format Hardback
Dimensions 25.3 x 28.6 cm
Weight 1599 g


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William Greenwood is Curator at the Zayed National Museum, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. He was previously Albukhary Foundation Curator of the Islamic World at the British Museum and co-curator of the exhibition Inspired by the East: how the Islamic world influenced Western art.

Lucien de Guise is an author and co-curator of the exhibition Inspired by the East: how the Islamic world influenced Western art. Having spent many years working in Malaysia as a museum curator and director, he is now Associate Curator of the Isl amic Arts Museum Malaysia, based in London.

Professor Ali Behdad is John Charles Hillis Professor of Literature at the University of California, Los Angeles, USA.

Dr Catherine L. Futter is Director of Cultural Affairs at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

Dr Mary Kelly (née Healy) is Lecturer in Contemporary Art History, Theory and Gallery Studies and Director of the MA in Global Gallery Studies at University College Cork, Ireland.

Dr William Kynan-Wilson is Assistant Professor in Medieval and Early Modern History at the University of Aalborg, Denmark.

Briony Llewellyn is an independent art historian specialising in British artists' depictions of the Near and Middle East.

John M. MacKenzie is an historian and scholar of imperial cultural history, and Professor Emeritus at the University of Lancaster, UK.