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Jean-Léon Gérôme (May 11, 1824 - 1904) was a French painter and sculptor who produced many works in a historical, Orientalist style.

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Pollice Verso by Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1872 is the immediate source of the "thumbs down" gesture in popular culture. It is currently owned by the Phoenix Art Museum.

Born at Vesoul (Haute-Saône), he went to Paris in 1841 and worked under Paul Delaroche, whom he accompanied to Italy (1844-1845). On his return he exhibited The Cock-fight, which gained him a third-class medal in the Salon of 1847. The Virgin with Christ and St John and Anacreon, Bacchus and Cupid took a second-class medal in 1848. He exhibited Bacchus and Love, Drunk, a Greek Interior and Souvenir d'Italie, in 1851; Paestum (1852); and An Idyll (1853).

In 1854 Gérôme made a journey to Turkey and the shores of the Danube, and in 1857 visited Egypt. To the exhibition of 1855 he contributed a Pifferaro, a Shepherd, A Russian Concert and a large historical canvas, The Age of Augustus and the Birth of Christ. The last was somewhat confused in effect, but in recognition of its consummate ability the State purchased it.

Gérôme's reputation was greatly enhanced at the Salon of 1857 by a collection of works of a more popular kind: the Duel: after a Masquerade, Egyptian Recruits crossing the Desert, Memnon and Sesostris and Camels Watering, the drawing of which was criticized by Edmond About.

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The Cock Fight by Jean-Léon Gérôme (1847)

In Caesar (1859) Gérôme tried to return to a severer class of work, but the picture failed to interest the public. Phryne before the Areopagus, Le Roi Candaule and Socrates finding Alcibiades in the House of Aspasia (1861) gave rise to some scandal by reason of the subjects selected by the painter, and brought down on him the bitter attacks of Paul de Saint-Victor and Maxime Du Camp. At the same Salon he exhibited the Egyptian chopping Straw, and Rembrandt biting an Etching, two very minutely finished works.

Gérôme's best paintings are of Eastern subjects; among these may be named the Turkish Prisoner and Turkish Butcher (1863); Prayer (1865); The Slave Market (1867); and The Harem out Driving (1869). He often illustrated history, as in Louis XIV and Molière (1863); The Reception of the Siamese Ambassadors at Fontainebleau (1865); and the Death of Marshal Ney (1868).

Gérôme was also successful as a sculptor; he executed, among other works; Omphale (1887), and the statue of the duc d'Aumale which stands in front of the château of Chantilly (1899). His Bellona (1892), in ivory, metal, and precious stones, which was also exhibited in the Royal Academy of London, attracted great attention. The artist then began an interesting series of Conquerors, wrought in gold, silver and gems Bonaparte entering Cairo (1897); Tamerlane (1898); and Frederick the Great (1899).

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Pygmalion and Galatea by Jean-Léon Gérôme

Gérôme was elected member of the Institut in 1865.

His students included: Dagnan-Bouveret, Lecomte du Nouy, Thomas Eakins, Frank Boggs, Frederick Bridgman, Kenyon Cox, Julian Alden Weir, Dennis Miller Bunker, William DeLeftwich Dodge, Alexander Harrison, Robert Lee MacCameron, Siddons Mowbray, Harper Pennington, William Picknell, Julius Stewart, Abbott Thayer, Douglas Volk, Wyatt Eaton and Lawton Parker.

External links

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