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Jean-Leon Gerome

 (1824 - 1904)
Jean-Leon Gerome was active/lived in France.  Jean Leon Gerome is known for detailed historical painting, Orientalism, erotic subjects, sculpture, teaching.

Jean-Leon Gerome

    zhe-ROME  speaker-click to hear pronunciation  click to hear

Biography from the Archives of askART

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Gerome was born in Vesoul, France May 11, 1824. The artist's father was a goldsmith. Jean Leon Gerome was enrolled in some of the best schools. He was successful in his studies. While attending school at Visual he was exposed to the artistic disciplines of drawing and painting. Although he had a somewhat broad education,  he was strongly influenced by his drawing master Claude Basel Cariage (1798-1875) who, like most academic teachers, was said to be very strict with his curricula.  He was a student of Ingres (1780-1867).

At the age of sixteen Gerome set out for Paris. His intent was to study with Paul Delaroche (1797-1856) as Gerome was well versed in the principals of drawing and painting and was familiar with the typical academic studio disciplines. His transition to the new environment did not vary greatly from that of his previous training.

Delaroche was known to incorporate methods of the Grand masters from various academies of art. Gerome arrived on the scene about 1840. The master influenced his pupil's style by advocating the use of Academic training shaped by the influence of Neo Classical style... During this very important period his pupil was to formulate a manner that was based on the the mastery of minute detail inter-dispersed with the desired elements of historical accuracy.

Having come from a privileged background, Gerome received a generous allowance from his family. There are many accounts that tell of his sharing and generous nature.  It is said that he took great care to share his subsidy with other not so fortunate students.  The artist spent some time outside Delaroche's studio. In order to expand his scope he took courses at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts Paris. He also spent time copying old masters in the Louvre.  This practice helped to improve his use of color and design.

Gerome became a favorite pupil and friend of Delaroche. The master had decided to close his studio in Paris. He wanted to spend free time in Rome, Gerome joined his teacher.  For over a year he studied the haunts and antiquities of Rome and Naples.  The experience added to his taste for historical incident especially the portrayal of gladiators in the arena.  There is a good example of this type of picture at The Yale Art Gallery New Haven Ct.

In 1844 he entered the studio of Charles Gleyere (1806-1874).  This noted artist was a consummate craftsman.  He had a taste for Eastern Subjects.  Gleyere's influence went far to shape his pupils aesthetics.  At a later point Gerome became famous for genera that portrayed exotic subjects.  His painting career was extremely successful.  He later was classified as an Orientalist painter; he excelled as a draftsman and also became a sculptor.  He gained great noriety for his painting The Cock Fight (Orsay Museum France ).  He was awarded a third class medal in the Salon competition (1847)  He had entered another admirable  work titled Bacchus and Love Drunk which took a second class medal in 1848.  Gerome continued to exhibit 1851, 1852, 1853, 1854.  After this period he made a journey to Turkey and later to Egypt.  The artist was always inspired when he traveled to exotic lands.  He like his hero Rembrandt Van Rijn (1606-1699) was obsessed with collecting swords helmets, armor. objects and Antiquities that could later be used as props in his paintings.

He continued to exhibit more of his canvasses. (1855-1859), Gerome was elected to the Institute in (1865) some critics say his Turkish subjects rank amongst his best. The Slave Market (1867) would be typical example of this period.

Much of the painter's early career was supported by commissions from the French Government.  He was extremely generous and many times he asked that monies or prizes be used for less fortunate students or artists in need.  As he increased in fame he was sought after by prominent collectors.  He had become famous and fairly expensive.  In the 1860s Gerome started his own atelier.  Later he married Marie Gupil (1842-1912) she was the daughter of the art dealer Adolph Goupil.  Her father was the main dealer who sold and promoted the artists pictures.

Jean Leon Gerome, Alexander Cabnel and Bouguereau were upholders of the Academic tradition in France.  They showed opposition to Impressionism and other Modern styles. Gerome was made a knight of the Legion of Honor in 1867.  These honors were given to academicians who were noted to produce art subjects with moralistic tones.  The pictures were produced using a highly polished style of rendering. Ironically, Gerome's  Academie produced students that later excelled in the Academic and Impressionist styles.

Leon Gerome had his own group of followers.  He was highly regarded by his students.  His studio produced many notable artist especially Americans.  Among them was FA Bridgman (1847-1928) Mary Cassatt (1844-1926) Kenyon Cox (1856-1919) Thomas Elkins (1844-1926)

At the age of fifty four he turned to sculpture.  In 1878 he won the Medal of Honor with his first bronze at the Universal exposition he exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1899.  He was to produce many other popular paintings based on figural motifs. He continued to delve the sculptural arts until his death. The artist became tired and weary.  He had seen and experienced life at its fullest.  He received some of Frances highest honors.  He was respected and admired the world over.  Fittingly, he expired among his beloved creations in his studio in France in 1904.

Written and researched by Jim Kieley Woodbury Ct. 01/ 02 /06

Biography from the Archives of askART
Biography photo for Jean-Leon Gerome
Indicative of the conservative approach to painting and resistance to change of Jean Leon Gerome, is his reaction at the time of death of Gustave Caillebotte, who left his personal collection of impressionist paintings to the French State, with the provision that they ultimately be exhibited at the Louvre.  Jean Leon Gerome, then one of the most prominent art teachers at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, threatened to resign his position if the bequest was accepted.  Representing many of the other professors, he said:  "Does not the bequest contain paintings by M. Monet, by M. Pissarro and others?  For the government to accept such filth, there would have to be a great moral slackening." 

As a result, the government accepted only half of the Caillebotte collection, leaving behind "eleven Pissarros, eight Monets, three Sisley, three Cezannes, two Renoirs and a Manet."

Hilton Kramer, Editor, "The Turn of the Century, 1890-1913", Arts Yearbook I, p. 11

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About  Jean-Leon Gerome

Born:  1824 - Vesoul, France
Died:   1904 - Paris, France
Known for:  detailed historical painting, Orientalism, erotic subjects, sculpture, teaching