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Jean-Leon Gerome

Jun - 8 - 2013
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Jean-Leon GeromeJean-Leon Gerome was among the most officially honored and financially successful French artists of the second half of the 19th century. French painter, was born on the 11th of May 1824 at Vesoul (Haute-SaOne).He went to Paris in 1841 and worked under Paul Delaroche, whom he accompanied to Italy (1844—1845). On his return he exhibited The Cock-fight, which gained him a third-class medal in the Salon of 1847. The Virgin with Christ and St John and Anacreon, Bacchus and Cupid took a second-class medal in 1848. He exhibited Bacchus and Love, Drunk, a Greek Interior and Souvenir d’Italie, in 1851; Paestum (1852); and An Idyll (1853).
Jean-Leon Gerome tried to improve his skills by painting The Cockfight (1846), an academic exercise depicting a nude young man and a lightly draped girl with two fighting cocks and in the background the Bay of Naples.His brilliantly painted and often provocative pictures were at the center of heated debates over the present and future of the great French painting tradition. Reproduced using brand new photomechanical processes and dispersed across Europe and America, Gerome’s images indelibly marked the popular imagination, directly influencing spectacular forms of mass entertainment, from theater to film.

Camels at a Watering Trough

Camels at a Watering Trough
Jean-Léon Gérôme (1857)
National Gallery of Canada
Painting – oil on canvas

In 1854 he completed another important commission of decorating the Chapel of St. Jerome in the church of St. Séverin in Paris. His Last communion of St. Jerome in this chapel reflects the influence of the school of Ingres on his religious works.
In 1854 Gerome made a journey to Turkey and the shores of the Danube, and in 1857 visited Egypt. To the exhibition of 1855 he contributed a Pifferaro, A Shepherd, A Russian Concert and a large historical canvas, The Age of Augustus and the Birth of Christ. The last was somewhat confused in effect, but in recognition of its consummate ability the State purchased it. Gerome’s reputation was greatly enhanced at the Salon of 1857 by a collection of works of a more popular kind: the Duel: after a Masquerade, Egyptian Recruits crossing the Desert, Memnon and Sesostris and Camels Watering, the drawing of which was criticized by Edmond About. In Caesar (1859) Gerome tried to return to a severer class of work, but the picture failed to interest the public. Phryne before the Areopagus, Le Roi Candaule and Socrates finding Alcibiades in the House of Aspasia (1861) gave rise to some scandal by reason of the subjects selected by the painter, and brought down on him the bitter attacks of Paul de Saint-Victor and Maxime Ducamps. At the same Salon he exhibited the Egyptian chopping Straw, and Rembrandt biting an Etching, two very minutely finished works. Gerome’s best paintings are of Eastern subjects; among these may be named the Turkish Prisoner and Turkish Butcher (1863); Prayer (1865); The Slave Market (1867); and The Harem out Driving (1869). He often illustrated history, as in Louis XIV. and Moliere (1863); The Reception of the Siamese Ambassadors at Fontainebleau (1865); and The Death of Marshal Ney (1868).
Gerome was also successful as a sculptor. His first work was a large bronze statue of a gladiator holding his foot on his victim, shown to the public at the Exposition Universelle of 1878. This bronze was based on the main theme of his painting Pollice verso (1872). The same year he exhibited a marble statue at the Salon of 1878, based on his early painting Anacreon, Bacchus and Cupid (1848).He died in 1904 in France, in Paris.
Resources on the Web:

The artist’s paintings
The artist’s paintings on wikimedia
A small biography of the artist
A small biography of the artist
The extensive biography on Wikipedia
Extensive biography of the artist

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