Friday in the atelier: "Harem Pool" by Gérôme

Last week I mentioned that Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824-1904) was Paxton's teacher.

Shown here is a cropped detail of Gérôme's "Harem Pool." I don't know when this was painted, but since it is so similar to "Woman Bathing Her Feet (Harem Pool)" painted in 1889 I would assume that it was painted near that year.

I love Gérôme's paintings for the fine detail that he gives them and for the stories that they tell. I also love that he draws women more rubenesque than is fashionable in our modern society.

Gérôme's work is heavily influenced by his travels in the East - in 1854 he traveled to Turkey and Danube, and visited Egypt in 1857. In fact, his best works are of Eastern subjects. Much of his work was considered to be scandalous by his contemporaries. Even now art dealers place works like "Phryne before the Areopagus," "The Slave Market," "The Slave Auction," and several paintings of Moorish baths firmly in the 'erotic art' category.

Gérôme was also a successful sculptor who worked in marble, ivory, metal, and in precious stones. In 1855 Gérôme was decorated with the Legion of Honor and in 1863 he was appointed as a professor at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. Gérôme became an elected member of the Institute of France in 1865. He was a very influential and famous teacher.

Besides teaching Paxton Gérôme also taught these artists: Abbott Handerson Thayer, Alexander Harrison, Dagnan-Bouveret, Dennis Miller Bunker, Douglas Volk, Frank Boggs, Frederick Arthur Bridgman, Harper Pennington, J. Alden Weir, Julius Stewart, Kenyon Cox, Lawton Parker, Lecomte du Nouy, Robert Lee MacCameron, Siddons Mowbray, Thomas Eakins, Vasili Vasilyevich Vereshchagin, William DeLeftwich Dodge, William Picknell, and Wyatt Eaton

On a more personal note, several months ago I took a trip to the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF) to see originals by Bouguereau and Gérôme. There I got to see Gérôme's painting, "The Bath" (Click here to see it in detail.) I was surprised to discover that this painting was only 22 by 23 inches! I had only seen this painting digitally before, and the detail was so fine I had assumed it was much bigger. Gérôme definitely deserves the title of 'Master.'

The Art Renewal Center has many of Gérôme's works on digital display. Be warned that many of them may not be considered to be 'work safe' if your boss isn't friendly toward the arts.

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