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Bloom’s exotic imaginings (and Rob’s drawings) come from Victorian Orientalist paintings, postcards, and travel narratives. The British artist Frederick Goodall and the French artist Jean-Leon Gerome, both Academic painters, were major influences here. Their idealized depictions of slave markets, casbahs, and Arabs of varied assortments were part of a school of art influenced by academies, the Royal Academy in the case of Goodall and the Academie des Beaux-Arts in the case of Gerome. These painters sought to depict allegorical or historical scenes as ideals, rather than through mimetic representation; these were considered the most suitable themes for art. In the hierarchy of Academic painting, history paintings were at the top, then portrait, still life, and landscape. By the time Bloom is consuming visual culture at the turn of the century, these works were the stuff of postcards, bordering on kitsch.
The joke doesn’t stop there: Bloom’s Oriental garb is the same color as Buck Mulligan’s bathrobe.