245th ANNIVERSARY OF THE HERMITAGE
7 December 2009, presentation of the painting by
Pool in a Harem arrived to the Hermitage in 1918 from the Anichkov Palace to Petrograd.
The painting found itself in Russia shortly after the exhibition at the Salon in 1876. It was purchased for the collection of the Grand Duke Alexander Alexandrovich, future Emperor Alexander III, who attended studio of Gerome in Paris in 1857 and ordered that painting to the artist.
On March 22, 2001, canvas of Pool in a Harem was barbarically cut out from the frame and stolen from the Hermitage (the loss was discovered the same day by Alexander Babin, curator of the painting).
On January 29, 2007, the painting was returned to the Hermitage. At the end of December, 2006 the unknown called to the reception of the leader of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation Gennady Zuganov and reported that he would like to give the painting Pool in a Harem precisely to the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. The person who called was close to the building of the lower house of parliament at Okhotny Ryad; an employee of the party personnel came down to him and received the canvas.
The painting was in emergency condition. The canvas was folded in two, fragile threads of the base frayed through and broke; along the folds lines there appeared a cruciform through break which divided the painting in four separate halves that were interconnected with each other only by individual threads. Over the whole surface it was possible to trace deformations, fractures, numerous losses of painting and in certain parts connection between the layer of paint and the base was so weak that there was a threat of new scree.
The Restoration Commission of the Laboratory for Scientific Restoration of Easel Oil Paintings (chairman Albert Kostenevich) approved complex and methodology of expected conservation events as well as organization of full technical and technological research at the Department for Scientific and Technical Examination (head - Alexander Kosolapov).
In order to enhance the monument structure it was necessary to carry
out a number of complicated long
Separate parts of the main canvas were combined guided by coincident lines of the painting. Joining of fragile thin threads of the base was carried from the outer face with utmost attentiveness and carefulness. Taking into account fine grain, thinness and fragility of the canvas and for the purpose of achieving the best results all joining works were carried out under the microscope with quintuple zoom. Preserved threads were put back in their former places; those that were lost were replaced by the new ones taken from the edges in accordance with the system of braiding. Depending on complexity and configuration of the break they managed to join approximately 1 cm per day in average.
The same method was used to join cut off author’s edges to the fragments of the original painting along the perimeter.
In places where the layer of paint was lost a new restoration ground colour was laid and made even under the microscope. The painting was restored strictly within the limits of losses and with maximum approach to the manner of the author’s painting (the leader of the restoration of the painting Pool in a Harem by Gerome is a restorer of the highest level Tatyana Aleshina.
Executor - restorer of the 1st category Maria Shulepova).
Undiminishing interest of Gerome towards depiction of scenes from the Muslim world gave him a firm reputation of ’an ethnographic artist’ and he was proud of that.
After demonstration of Pool in a Harem at the Salon in 1876 reproductions of the painting were produced by the publishing house Gupil and acquired wide popularity.
In October 1885 Emperor Alexander III purchased one more work of