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Henri Meunier
11 3/8'' x 15 3/4''

Original chromo-lithograph from Les Maîtres de l'Affiche, Plate 156

The Belle Époque was the height of the colonial age, the military and political manifestation of a fascination with the exotic and unknown that had existed in Europe since the seventeenth century. Europe was awash with new cultural influences from China, the Middle East, and Japan, taking the form of everything from Chinoiserie decoration to faux-Moorish architecture. These fantastical visions of new peoples and cultures made the world seem like an endless sea of possibilities to Europeans. At the same time, their reduction of whole foreign cultures into decorative motifs echoes Edward Said’s position on Orientalism as a reflection of imperialist hostilities toward the East. This anxiety about “the other” pervades the visual language of modern advertising. Clad in romanticized jewelry, Meunier’s “Rajah” looms imperiously. As she lingers over her coffee, this seductive woman promotes the pleasure of consumption rather than the coffee itself.



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