JEAN LEON GEROME ORIENTALIST ART
Jean-Léon Gérôme (11 May 1824 – 10 January 1904) was a French painter and sculptor in the style now known as academicism. The range of his oeuvre included historical painting, Greek mythology, Orientalism, portraits, and other subjects, bringing the academic painting tradition to an artistic climax. He is considered one of the most important painters from this academic period. He was also a teacher with a long list of students.
In 1856, he visited Egypt for the first time. Gérôme's recurrent itinerary followed the classic grand tour of most occidental visitors to the Orient; up the Nile to Cairo, across to Fayoum, then further up the Nile to Abu Simbel, then back to Cairo, across the Sinai Peninsula through Sinai and up the Wadi el-Araba to the Holy land, Jerusalem and finally Damascus. This would herald the start of many orientalist paintings depicting Arab religion, genre scenes and North African landscapes. Among them are several paintings in which the Oriental setting served as a pretext to depict female nudity. Eroticized scenes of The Slave Market, The Large Pool of Bursa, The Harem Bath, and similar subjects were works of imagination in which Gérôme combined accurately observed Middle Eastern architectural details with idealized nudes painted in his Paris studio. In 2019, the far-right German party, Alternative for Germany, used 'The Slave Market' as a campaign poster in the 2019 European Parliament election.
In an autobiographical essay of 1878, Gérôme described how important oil sketches made on the spot were for him: "even when worn out after long marched under the bright sun, as soon as our camping spot was reached I got down to work with concentration. But Oh! How many things were left behind of which I carried only the memory away! And I prefer three touches of colour on a piece of canvas to the most vivid memory, but one had to continue on with some regret."He did not only gather themes, artefacts and costumes for his oriental scenes, but also made oil studies from nature for their backgrounds. Several of these quick sketches are filled with details that exceed his wished for three touches of colour.
Gérôme's reputation was greatly enhanced at the Salon of 1857 by a collection of works of a more popular kind: the Duel: after the Masked Ball (Musée Condé, Chantilly), Egyptian Recruits crossing the Desert, Memnon and Sesostris and Camels Watering, the drawing of which was criticized by Edmond About.