A Moorish Girl, ca. 1828

The image here is entitled “A Moorish Girl” and was designed by Richard James Lane. This lithograph was published in London by Engelmann, Graf, Coindet, & Co., ca. 1828. This would have exemplified the romanticized image conjured in Thomas Moore’s immensely popular Lalla Rookh, written in 1817. Often dismissed as a kind of quasi-pornographic Orientalist doggerel, the poem is a delightful read as a flight of fancy. The entire poem is online in an attractive format. Here is a sample excerpt:

Alas, poor ZELICA! it needed all
The fantasy which held thy mind in thrall
To see in that gay Haram’s glowing maids
A sainted colony for Eden’s shades;
Or dream that he, –of whose unholy flame
Thou wert too soon the victim, –shining came
From Paradise to people its pure sphere
With souls like thine which he hath ruined here!
No– had not reason’s light totally set,
And left thee dark thou hadst an amulet
In the loved image graven on thy heart
Which would have saved thee from the tempter’s art,
And kept alive in all its bloom of breath
That purity whose fading is love’s death!–
But lost, inflamed, –a restless zeal took place
Of the mild virgin’s still and feminine grace;
First of the Prophets favorites, proudly first
In zeal and charms, too well the Impostor nurst
Her soul’s delirium in whose active flame,
Thus lighting up a young, luxuriant frame,
He saw more potent sorceries to bind
To his dark yoke the spirits of mankind,
More subtle chains than hell itself e’er twined.
No art was spared, no witchery; –all the skill
His demons taught him was employed to fill
Her mind with gloom and ecstasy by turns–
That gloom, thro’ which Frenzy but fiercer burns,
That ecstasy which from the depth of sadness
Glares like the maniac’s moon whose light is madness!