Wednesday, March 30, 2011

More Leon Gerome

Public prayer in the mosque of Cairo

In the 1850's Gerome made a number of trips to the middle east touring Turkey and later Egypt.
He was one of the French painters who enamored with those ancient and picturesque lands made trips there to draw and make sketches, and then returned home to make paintings for the salon. This group of painters were called Orientalists, although Gerome handled many other subjects as well.

Le Eminence Grise depicts Cardinal Richelieu descending a staircase, with courtiers bowing to him. This wonderful painting is in the Boston Museum and they have always shown it, despite Gerome's unfashionable status through the 20th century. People love this painting perhaps it is too popular to store. I know this painting very well and it is one of my favorite things in the Boston Museum.It is a startlingly well painted work, a technical tour-de-force.

Selling Slaves in Rome. This painting obviously has a broad based appeal. The gesture of the auctioneer is priceless.


Brady said...

Gerome is awesome!

I need to do some traveling and see a finished one in person.

My local museum has one of the two starts Gerome did for The Christian Martyrs Last Prayer. It's cool to see how he changed his mind with the position of the Christians, and to see all of the tiny line work he put into the Colosseum, but I would like to see a finished piece to compare it with.

Bob Carter said...

Although my impressionist leanings prejudice me on the Academics, I too regard Le Eminence Grise as one of my favorites. I almost always check it out when at the MFA. I think Gerome's clever composition tells the story in a really neat way. I've noticed, however, that there seem to be some condition issues in the darkest areas (stabilized, no doubt, by the museum's excellent restorers), probably caused by the use of bitumen. said...

Le Eminence Grise was a favorite of mine, as a child. It was a very friendly size , not very big. But it always confused me because I thought it was painted in Boston. It looked like the stairway at the Copley Library to me then.
But what real got me was that red cape! yeah!

"popular" academic art? Is that an oxymoron?

Lucy said...

A close look at the outdoor structures (columns, buildings, steps, floors) shows beautiful and subtle shifts between warm and cool tones describing light and shadow.
I wonder what those mixtures were?

Stapleton Kearns said...

Come to Boston and see the Le Eminence. It is a fabulous painting.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I don't see any reason not to love both sorts of painting.

Stapleton Kearns said...

French Academic art has always been popular. When it fails in fact it is usually because it tries too hard to be popular.

Stapleton Kearns said...

If I were standing in front of the actual painting I could hazard a poor guess. But I am not, so will not.

Sharon Weaver said...

All the paintings you have posted were in the recent show of Gerome's here in LA. It was amazing. His sense of perspective, use of color and subject are exceptional. The later pieces have a maturity and easy in technique which can only be seen in the original painting. The rich colors sing. Really one of the highlights of my year was seeing this exhibit.

Rick B. said...

That painting of the cardinal leaves me in awe! I love this course in 100 paintings; it will be a wonderful exploration and pastime for me, over the next few weeks of catching up! Thanks for undertaking this exceptional contribution to those of us non-artists that love art but no nothing about it. This is very edifying!

Todd Bonita said...

I've always known that Gerome painting as the "Grey Cardinal"...hands down, the best painting in the MFA.