Jean-Léon Gérôme / Leaving the Oasis / 1880sJean-Léon Gérôme
Leaving the Oasis

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Creator Name: Gérôme, Jean-Léon
Creator Nationality: French
Creator Role: Artist
Creator Dates/Places: 1824 - 1904
Biography: Born in Vesoul near the Swiss border, Jean-Lýon Gýrýme grew up in comfort. His goldsmith father approved of his decision to become an artist and supported his study in Paris with Delaroche (q.v.) during the early 1840s. Delaroche's interest in historical reconstruction, precise detail, and smooth picture surface had a significant effect on the young student. After failing to win the Prix de Rome in 1846, which his father pressured him to enter, Gýrýme decided to make his name at the Salons. His debut there in 1847 with A Cock Fight (Musýe d'Orsay, Paris) was a huge success and brought him and his fellow neo-Grecs, as they were called, much attention. Several important commissions and purchases followed, including church decoration and the huge historical picture The Age of Augustus (Musýe d'Orsay, Paris) that emulated the kind of classicizing panorama of Delaroche in the hemicycle for the ýcole des Beaux-Arts. Gýrýme also studied briefly with Charles Gleyre (1808-1874) after Delaroche closed his studio in 1842. Gleyre's travel and sketches from the Near and Middle East may also have played a critical role in introducing the young artist to another major interest of his career, orientalist subject matter. With the twenty thousand francs paid for The Age of Augustus, the artist treated himself to a trip to Constantinople with his actor-friend Edmond Got. Further travels to the Middle East followed, and Gýrýme exhibited his first Egyptian themes in the 1857 Salon.In the 1878 Universal Exposition in Paris, he exhibited his first attempts at sculpture, which corresponded closely with his painted works, first following their themes, then serving as models for his canvases, especially the Pygmalion pictures. During the 1880s he was, like several other artists, drawn to incorporate polychromy and various precious and semi-precious materials into his sculpture; this was known to be a widespread practice among ancient sculptors, and it heightened the illusion of lifelikeness as well as the decorative aspect of these works.Although he had not succeeded at the ýcole des Beaux-Arts, Gýrýme received one of three prestigious professorships in 1863 following the somewhat controversial reforms of the fine arts institutions in Paris. His official rather than academic achievements made him a good candidate to lead the new generation of French painters out of the decadence into which many believed French art had fallen. He taught hundreds of students in his atelier at the ýcole as well as at his independent studio and had an especially strong impact on his American students, such as Thomas Eakins (1844-1916) and Frederick Arthur Bridgman (1847-1928). Although the majority of Gýrýme's students remember him as an exacting but fair master, he showed intractable resistance to the new modes of impressionism and symbolism and campaigned against the acceptance of Gustave Caillebotte's (1843-1893) bequest of such art to the French state.In 1863 Gýrýme married Marie Goupil, the daughter of well-known international art dealer Adolphe Goupil, who became the exclusive representative of his work. Goupil not only sold his son-in-law's pictures through his branches in Europe and New York, but he also disseminated their reputation through photographic reproductions.1 Gýrýme received all the highest honors awarded to nineteenth-century artists and achieved considerable financial success.1. See Linda Whiteley, 'Goupil, (Jean-Michel-) Adolphe,' Dictionary of Art (London, 1996), 13:228; and Musýe Goupil, Conservatoire de L'image Industrielle Bordeaux, ýtat des lieux 1 (Bordeaux, 1994), esp. 9-36.
Gender: M
Creator Birth Place: Vesoul, 11 May 1824
Creator Death Place: Paris, 10 January 1904
Creator Name-CRT: Jean-Léon Gérôme
Title: Leaving the Oasis
Title Type: Primary
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1880
Creation End Date: 1889
Creation Date: 1880s
Object Type: Paintings
Classification Term: Painting
Materials and Techniques: oil on wood panel
Dimensions: Unframed: 50cm x 81.2cm
Inscriptions: Signed lower center right: j. l. gerome
AMICA Contributor: The Cleveland Museum of Art
Owner Location: Cleveland, Ohio, USA
ID Number: 1977.126
Credit Line: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Noah L. Butkin
Provenance: New York sale, Parke-Bernet, 25 April 1968 (lot 265, repr.), $1,000. Los Angeles sale, Sotheby Parke-Bernet, 27 May 1974 (lot 81, repr.), $6,500. Mr. and Mrs. Noah L. Butkin, Cleveland. Given to the CMA in 1977.
Context: Leaving the Oasis repeats several themes in Gérôme's art-camel caravans, oases, expansive desert landscapes. As an academic realist, Gérôme painted everyday scenes in a meticulous and polished style. Here he carefully rendered the unique forms of the figures' dress and the camels' physical features, as well as the colors of the changing sky and the violet shadows cast by the airborne dogs and the legs of the camels.Although the picture's smoothness and detail suggest a photographic image, Gérôme actually composed his paintings in the studio, basing them on memories and sketches from his visits to the Near East. Following his first trip to Egypt in 1856, he developed into a major figure among 19th-century 'Orientalists'-artists who specialized in representing Near Eastern life, culture, and landscapes.
AMICA ID: CMA_.1977.126
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright, The Cleveland Museum of Art

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