1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Gérôme, Jean Léon

GÉRÔME, JEAN LÉON (1824–1904), French painter, was born on the 11th of May 1824 at Vesoul (Haute-Saône). 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 Ducamp. 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 Molière” (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 duc d’Aumale which stands in front of the château 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.