Jean-Léon Gérôme (French, 1824-1904) A Bischari warrior 16 x 13in (40.6 x 33cm)
Lot 43
Jean-Léon Gérôme
(French, 1824-1904)
A Bischari warrior 16 x 13in (40.6 x 33cm)
Sold for US$ 212,500 inc. premium

Lot Details
Jean-Léon Gérôme (French, 1824-1904) A Bischari warrior 16 x 13in (40.6 x 33cm)
Jean-Léon Gérôme (French, 1824-1904)
A Bischari warrior
signed J.L. Gerome (upper left)
oil on canvas
16 x 13in (40.6 x 33cm)

Footnotes

  • Executed in 1872.

    Provenance
    Goupil et Cie., Paris;
    Samuel P. Avery, New York, (acquired from the above through his intermediary Everard & Co., London, 1873 for 6500 FF);
    Alden Murray (Curator at the Frick Collection, New York), Amherst, Massachusetts, 1967;
    Julian Silva, San Francisco, California (acquired from the above).

    Literature
    Edward Strahan [Earl Shinn], Gérôme, A Collection of Works of J. L. Gérôme in One Hundred Photogravures, New York, 1881-83, vol. II, illustrated.
    Gerald Ackerman, Jean-Léon Gérôme, monographie révisée, catalogue raisonné mis à jour, Paris, 2000, pp. 280-281, cat. no. 225, illustrated.

    This striking portrait of an Arab warrior from the Bischarin tribe is one of two works commissioned by the New York art dealer, Samuel Avery, from Gérôme in 1871. At that time, the Franco-Prussian war was raging and Paris was under siege. The artist and his family had taken refuge in London, where he maintained a busy social life, surrounded by admiring colleagues, collectors and dealers. In 1863, Gérôme had married Marie Goupil, his dealer's daughter, and their marriage was a long and happy one, resulting in four children and numerous grand-children.

    Gérôme had brought some of his studio props with him to London and may have started to work on the two paintings there, but his intention was to finish them in Paris, where he had a model he wanted to use. Once the siege was lifted in June 1871, the Gérôme family returned to Paris, but later that same year, Gérôme set off again for the Near East, only to return four years later. It is quite likely that Gérôme had finished the Bischarin in Turkey, where he found himself in 1872.

    The present portrait features the same model depicted in Bischarin warrior offered at Christie's, New York, on 31 October 2001, albeit in a slightly larger scale. The work is exquisite in its simplicity and compositional equilibrium. The light highlights the strikingly exotic face with high cheek bones and sensual lips, and his bare chest adorned only with his warrior's attributes. Gérôme is accurately depicting the unique traits of the Bischari Bedouins of the Sudan Desert and Southern Egypt. They were known for their round faces, their straight noses and large eyes and their trademark thick hair is echoed here by the roundness of the shield held by the sitter.

    The painting has been on American soil since 1873 and has not been seen on the market since. A letter from Gerald Ackerman to the owner, dated April 23, 1998, accompanies this painting.
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