Musée d'Orsay: The Spectacular Art of Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824-1904)

The Spectacular Art of Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824-1904)


Jean-Léon Gérôme Pollice Verso © Phoenix Art Museum
For a long time Gérôme was stigmatised as the representative of sterile Academic art, until, in the later decades of his life, there was a profound change in how he was perceived. Today he is recognised as one of the great image creators of the 19th century.

The exhibition is an opportunity to look at all aspects of his work, from his sources to his influence: Gérôme's place in French painting of his time, his theatrical interpretation of history painting, his complex relationship with exoticism, his use of polychromy in sculpture, his role as a teacher and his interest in the Classical model. It also looks at how his personality crystallised the whole anti-Academic struggle of the late 19th century, and finally how he aroused the passionate interest of the general public and American collectors.

Apart from their immediate charm and accessibility, it is surely the dual identity of these works, both scholarly and popular, pushing the illusionist obsession to the point of strangeness, that makes them so valued today by art historians and general public alike.


Edouard Papet, chief curator, Musée d'Orsay ; Laurence des Cars, chief curator, scientific director, Agence France-Museums ; Dominique de Font-Réaulx, chief curator, Musée du Louvre

Exhibition organised by the Musée d'Orsay, the Réunion des Musées Nationaux and the Getty Museum in collaboration with the museum Thyssen-Bornemisza of Madrid

Exhibition also presented at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, from 15 June to 12 September 2010 and at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid, from 1 March to 22 May 2011


The Spectacular Art of Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824-1904)
Musée d'Orsay / Editions Skira-Flammarion
£50 / $75

With the support of Land Rover France

19 October 2010 - 23 January 2011
Musée d'Orsay

Exhibition hall

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