Carpet seller. Jean-Leon Gerome

Jean-Leon Gerome

Jean-Leon Gerome. Dancers playing chess in a cafe
Dancers playing chess in a cafe

Jean-Léon Gérôme was born May 11, 1824 – died January 10, 1904. He was an outstanding French artist of the 19th century, a prominent representative of the academic direction in painting. Jean-Léon Jerome’s paintings are distinguished by their impeccably built composition and exquisite color scheme. Jean-Leon Gerome did not accept the work of the Impressionists, whom he considered a dishonor for French art. By this, he earned a very ambiguous fame as a fierce supporter of academism and a persecutor of new trends.

Biography of Jean-Léon Jerome

Jean-Leon Gerome was born on May 11, 1824 in a small town in the east of France, in the family of a jeweler. As a young man, he made a stunning copy of the famous painting by Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps, which was praised by renowned artist Paul Delaroche. At the age of 16, against the wishes of his father, the young man went to Paris to study at the private studio of Delaroche. Respect, reverent and warm attitude to the mentor Jean-Leon Gerome will carry through his whole life.

In 1843, the teacher and student went to Italy and spent a year there. Subsequently, Jerome will recall this trip with delight. One of the most notable works of the “Roman period” was the painting “Head of a Woman”. A year later, Delaroche retired, entrusting his students to the Swiss Charles Gleyre. It was under his influence that Jean-Leon Gerome became interested in antiquity and the Middle East. The paintings of an aspiring artist with subjects borrowed from Greek mythology were equally far from both academism and realism. Therefore, their author was ranked among the “neo-Greeks” – fans of the Greek classics.

Dervishes dance. Jean-Leon Gerome
Dervishes dance

In 1846, the talented painter finished his first monumental work – “Young Greeks amuse themselves with cockfighting”, and was awarded the medal of the Paris Salon of the 3rd rank for it.

In 1848, Jean-Léon Gérôme became the leader of the “phalanster of artists”, which critics began to call “the school of Jerome”. The painting “Anacreon, Bacchus and Cupid” belongs to this period, which brought its creator a medal of the Salon of the 2nd rank.

In 1850, the sketch “Greek interior”, depicting a lupanarium, caused heated controversy. Critics found the plot too frivolous, obscene. At the height of the scandal, “The Greek Interior” was acquired by Louis Napoleon: it was a great honor for the aspiring author. Inspired by such a spectacular denouement of history, the artist paints the erotic picture “Idyll”.

Judgment Day. Jean-Leon Gerome
Judgment Day

In 1853 he visited Istanbul, and in 1856 he went to Egypt, where he draws sketches and sketches. The paintings “Egyptian Recruits”, “Landscape of Thebais” and “Camels at a Watering”, exhibited in 1857, make a strong impression on the public, demonstrating a fresh look at the mysterious East.

In 1861, Jerome was slightly wounded in a duel. He was forced to leave his homeland and spend about two years on long journeys. Returning to France, the artist began to teach at the Paris School of Fine Arts.

In 1872, the painter finally turns to the theme of gladiator fights, which has long been exciting to him. The painting “Pollice Verso” took its rightful place among the best historical works of the 19th century, and it was her author who considered his main achievement.

Carpet seller. Jean-Leon Gerome
Carpet seller

In 1878, Jean-Leon made his debut as a sculptor, embodying heroes-gladiators in bronze. Gradually painting was inextricably linked in his works with sculpture. Pygmalion and Galatea”, “Model of the sculptor”, “Colors bring life to sculpture”).

The beginning of the twentieth century was marked for the master by a decisive rejection of impressionism, which caused a great public outcry. The artist was known as a retrograde and an enemy of progress. Health began to deteriorate gradually, and on January 10, 1904, Jean-Leon Gerome died. After his death, his name was for a long time, until the 70s of the twentieth century, consigned to oblivion.

Jean-Leon Gerome. Reception of the Prince of Condé by Louis XIV at Versailles in 1674
Reception of the Prince of Condé by Louis XIV at Versailles in 1674

The most famous paintings by Jean-Léon Jerome

Jean-Léon Jerome’s paintings open up room for imagination, allow the viewer to fantasize about what preceded the captured moment or what is about to happen. Among his best works are:

  1. The Boy’s Head (1844) is the very first surviving work.
  2. “Rest in the Russian camp” (1854) – kept in one of the private collections in the United States.
  3. “King Candavl” (1854) – reproduces the dramatic plot described by Herodotus.
  4. “Duel after the Masquerade” (1857) – the picture was an incredible success, and the author personally removed 2 copies from it.
  5. “Pollice Verso” (“Thumbs down”) (1872) – when painting the picture, the models were dressed in real gladiatorial armor.
  6. “Two Majesties” (1883) – a royal lion in splendid isolation admires the sunrise.
Portrait of Baroness Nathaniel Rothschild
Portrait of Baroness Nathaniel Rothschild
Arabs crossing the desert
Arabs crossing the desert