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Nymphs and Satyr, by William Bouguereau (Detail)
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Jean Leon
French painter, draftsman & sculptor
born May 11 1824- died 1904

Born in: Vesoul (Haute-Saône, Franche-Comté, France)
Died in: Paris (Departement de Ville de Paris, Ile-de-France, France)

Also known as:
Jean Leon Gerome


Student of:
Paul Delaroche (1797-1856), Charles Gleyre (1808-1874)

Teacher of:
Gunnar Berndtson (1854-1895), Jean Jacques Berne-Bellecour (1874-), Charles Bittinger (1879-1970), Walter Blackman (1847-1928), Gustave Bourgain (Gustave Bourgain) (1856-1921), Dennis Miller Bunker (1861-1890), Mary Cassatt (1844-1926), Kenyon Cox (1856-1919), Pascal-Adolphe-Jean Dagnan-Bouveret (Pascal Adolphe Jean Dagnan Bouveret) (1852-1929), Henri Camille Danger (1857-1937), William DeLeftwich Dodge (1867-1935), Charles-Carle-Henri Dupont (1872-), Albert Edelfelt (1854-1905), Henry d' Estienne (1872-1949), Jean Louis Forain (1852-1931), Emanuel Phillips Fox (1865-1915), Antonio de la Gandara (1861-1917), Leon Glaize (1842-1932), Gabriel Guay (1848-), Jules-Auguste Habert-Dys (1850-), Osman Hamdy-Bey (Osman Hamdy Bey) (1842-1910), Vlastimil Hofmann (1881-1970), Vojtech Hynais (1854-1925), Ernst Josephson (1851-1906), Konstanty Laszczka (1865-1956), Jean-Jules-Antoine Lecomte du Nouy (Jean Jules Antoine Lecomte du Nouy) (1842-1923), Henry Siddons Mowbray (1858-1928), Lawton Silas Parker (1868-1954), William McGregor Paxton (1869-1941), Fernand Pelez de Cordova (1820-1899), Harper Pennington (1853-1920), William Lamb Picknell (1853-1897), Jean Francois Raffaelli (1850-1924), Theodore Robinson (1852-1896), Alfred Roll (1846-1919), Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946), Julius LeBlanc Stewart (1855-1919), Abbott Handerson Thayer (1849-1921), Julian Alden Weir (1852-1919), Frederick Arthur Bridgman (1847-1928), Thomas Eakins (1844-1916), Oscar Pereira da Silva (1865-1939), Augusto Rodrigues Duarte (1848-1888), Emile Aubry (Émile Aubry) (1880-1964)

Biographical Information

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).

In 1854 Gérôme 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. Gérôme’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) Gérôme 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. Gérôme’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).

Gérôme was also successful as a sculptor; he executed, among other works; Omphale (1887), and the statue of the due d’Aumale which stands in front of the chateau of Chantilly (1899). His Bellona (1892), in ivory, metal, and precious stones, which was also exhibited in the Royal Academy of London, attracted great attention. The artist then began an interesting series of Conquerors, wrought in gold, silver and gems — Bonaparte entering Cairo (1897); Tamerlane (1898) and Frederick the Great (1899). Gérôme was elected member of the Institut in 1865. He died in 1904.

Source: Entry on the artist in the 1911 Edition Encyclopedia.

   Artist Portraits

   Artist Letters

   Books and Related Products About This Artist

Pollice Verso

Translated title: Thumbs Down
Oil on canvas
96.5 x 149.2 cm
(37.99" x 58.74")
Phoenix Art Museum (Phoenix, Arizona, United States)

Added: 2001-08-27
Pelt Merchant of Cairo

Oil on canvas
61.5 x 50 cm
(24.21" x 19.69")
Private collection

Added: 2001-08-27
The Christian Martyrs' Last Prayer

Oil on canvas
87.9 x 150.1 cm
(34.61" x 59.09")
Walters Art Gallery (Baltimore, Maryland, United States)

Added: 2001-08-27
The Serpent Charmer

Oil on canvas
84 x 122 cm
(33.07" x 48.03")
Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute (Williamstown, Massachusetts, United States)

Added: 2001-09-16
The Carpet Merchant

Oil on canvas
83.5 x 64.7 cm
(32.87" x 25.47")
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts (Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States)

Added: 2001-09-17
Phryne before the Areopagus

Oil on canvas
80 x 128 cm
(31½" x 50.39")
Kunsthalle (Hamburg, Germany)

Added: 2001-08-27

Salon of 1861

Black Bashi-Bazouk

Oil on canvas
81 x 66 cm
(31.89" x 25.98")
Metropolitan Museum of Art (Manhattan, New York, United States)

Added: 2001-09-13

Oil sketch on canvas
61 x 100 cm
(24.02" x 39.37")
Private collection

Added: 2001-09-18
Harem Women Feeding Pigeons in a Courtyard

Oil on canvas
Private collection

Added: 2003-10-05

Harem Women Feeding Pigeons in a Courtyard is a masterwork created during Gérôme's adventures to the middle east. At a time when travel involved health risks, physical discomforts and potentially lethal hazards that we today can only imagine, Gérôme's travels were an act of heroism and exploration of a type that is no longer possible in our shrinking world. The composition of the picture is remarkable, all the way across the canvas from left to right through the line of action. The white veiled women are each distinct individuals by the color of their robes and the poise of their individual poses. The woman feeding the pigeons extends her hand in easy grace, enhanced by Gérôme's depiction of the birdfeed as it gently drifts towards the ground. I cannot with certainty say that Gérôme consciously wished to evoke the Madonna, but her robe is the unmistakable gentle tint of blue used by artists for centuries when depicting this iconic figure. Surely it is significant that the light catches some of the pigeons, bleaching them dove-white as angels on the wing.

In contrast, the palace guard is a true outsider to the scene. Unlike the women, his face is uncovered and his skin is dark. He wears a dramatic, military red robe and his arms are tightly clenched to his body. He is not in any way involved in her act of charity and nourishment, which is particularly feminine. The comparison is made that the women tend to the flock of pigeons as the man tends to the flock of women; a commentary on Arabic culture.

The birds are masterfully done, flying in-and-out of shafts of bright sunlight. Their shadows are cast on the sun-drenched steps, and they nest in the beams overhead. The sense of flight is complete, with elegant wings suspending them mid-air, mixed with a sense of both delicacy and movement.

The most impressive aspect to this picture, is the way in which Gerome has captured the lofty space and feeling of the courtyard. The pillars have support beams stretching back to the wall, providing a sense of depth. The pillars on the left are partially lit, providing a sense of height and scale. One can almost experience the cool recesses of the space and hear the coo of the birds. The door behind the birdfeeder leads into darkness and the cooler recesses within, while the window to the right opens out into the sun and open air. This enclosed space, is fully realized and complete.

- By James Abbot

Adapted from an article first published September 20th, 2011 on the Jade Sphinx

La Priere au Caire

Translated title: Prayer in Cairo
Oil on panel
49.9 x 81.2 cm
(19.65" x 31.97")
Hamburger Kunsthalle (Hamburg, Germany)

Added: 2001-08-27

Salon of 1865