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Imagination of Western Viewers

Orientalism through imagination is not only about the imagination of Orientalist painters, but also about the viewer's imagination when they gaze over Orientalist paintings. Linda Nochlin points out that when western viewers gazed over Orientalist paintings, they tended to imagine Eastern society as being lazy, superstitious and cruel to establish power and control over Eastern people. In Thomas Allom’s sketches, scenes of leisure and religious worship were often depicted to reinforce the idea that the Oriental lifestyle was slothful, idle, childlike and superstitious. Moreover, Allom rarely depicted violence of the West on China (e.g. the First Opium War, 1839-1842), but rather primarily portrayed violence of Chinese towards each other.

Chinese Opium Smokers, Thomas Allom, 1845

Punishment of the Tcha or Cangue, Thomas Allom, 1845

An Itinerant Barber, Thomas Allom, 1845

Temple of Buddha, Canton, Thomas Allom, 1845

Chinese Sacrifice to the Harvest Moon, Thomas Allom, 1845

Canton Barge Men Fighting Snails, Thomas Allom, 1845

A Devotee Consulting the Sticks of Fate, Thomas Allom, 1845

A Mandarin Paying a Visit of Ceremony, Thomas Allom, 1845

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