Pool in a Harem and Other Works by Jean-Leon
Gerome in the Hermitage
On November 1st, 2011 at the State Hermitage Museum, an exhibition dedicated to the return of Jean Leon Geromeís painting Pool in a Harem to the Museum was opened.
Pool in a Harem was painted in 1875 by order of the great prince Alexander Alexandrovich (the future emperor Alexander III) and was on display at the 1876 Salon under the name Turkish Women at Bath; later, it was one of the works of art that made up a continuous exhibition of French painting of the 19th century. On March 22nd, 2001, the painting was barbarically ripped from its frame and stolen from the halls of the State Hermitage Museum. In December 2006, it was found in Moscow, and on January 29th, 2007, it was returned to the Hermitage.
The condition of the painting when it was returned was characterized as disastrous. The canvas was crumpled, the fragile fibers of the thin base layer had frayed and suffered friction damage. A cross-shaped perforation had formed along the fold lines, which separated the painting into four parts that were held together by only a few threads.
From 2007 to 2009, this work by the French master underwent a complex
process of restoration in the State Hermitage Museumís Laboratory for
Scientific Restoration of Easel Oil Paintings (T.P. Alyoshina,
In addition to Pool in a Harem, other works by this author which are being preserved in the Hermitage will be presented. The following paintings will be on display: Duel after a Masquerade Ball (1867), General Bonaparte with His Military Staff in Egypt (sketch, 1863), Slave Auction (1884), an engraving from the picture Duel after a Masquerade Ball (1869), presented the first version of the theme of Duel after a Masquerade Ball, (Musee Conde in Chantilly, and two works of sculpture Bacchante (1897), and Plaudite, Cives!, (1898), depicting a gladiator beside a lion he has killed in the arena.
Jean-Leon Gerome (1824-1904) studied in Paris under Paul Delaroche, with
whom he travelled to Italy. Within six months after returning to Paris,
Gerome visited Charles Gleyreís workshop. It is probably he who imparted
a love of the Orient to his student. Other sources for Geromeís work were
the Pompeian frescos and Ingresí paintings on classical themes. Those
works by Gerome that are now in the Hermitage address the main themes
of this masterís
A full colour illustrated catalogue has been prepared for this exhibit (State Hermitage Museum Publishing, 2011), including an introductory article on the artistís work and an article on the restoration of J.L. Geromeís painting Pool in a Harem.
The curator of the exhibit and the author of the introductory article for the catalogue is Alexander Alexeyevich Babin, the Head Research Associate of the Department of Western European Fine Art at the State Hermitage Museum and the holder of a Ph.D. in Art History.