Seen previously at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles and the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, The first comprehensive exhibition of the French painter Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824–1904) in almost 40 years arrives at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid.
Jean-Léon Gérôme was among the most officially honored and financially successful French artists of the second half of the 19th century. Through most of the 20th century, however, Gérôme's critical reputation was tarnished by his alleged commercialism and his stubborn opposition to the triumphant avant-garde movements of Impressionism and Postimpressionism. The first comprehensive exhibition of his work in almost 40 years.
Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824-1904)
Pollice Verso (Thumbs Down), 1872
Oil on canvas
Collection of Phoenix Art Museum
© Phoenix Art Museum
The exhibition brings together works that span Gérôme's entire career, from his early "Néo-Grec" paintings with their lighthearted take on classical antiquity, to his wide variety of historical scenes that still impress with their dramatic realism. A core group of Gérôme's Orientalist genre paintings are also on view. These paintings were inspired by the people and architecture he saw on his many voyages, beginning in the late 1850s, to Egypt, the Holy Land, and Asia Minor. Late in life, Gérôme shifted his focus to sculpture, conducting innovative experiments with polychromy that were informed by the latest archeological knowledge of antique sculpture. Although derided by critics, Gérôme's colorful, ornate statues—key examples of which are included in the exhibition—were popular among collectors, for whom he had them reproduced in a variety of sizes and materials.
Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum Website