The Artist and His Modelc. 1890-93 by
Gerome, Jean-Leon 1824-1904
The Artist and His Model commemorates Gerome's completion of a major sculpture, Tanagra, in 1890, and it demonstrates his insistence on working directly from his subject while also attending to compositional harmony. It also reveals his enthusiasm for the art of ancient Greece.
The painting belongs to a series of self-portraits in the studio. Here, referring to his new interest in sculpture, which began in earnest around 1878, Gerome depicted himself putting the final touches to the statue. The setting is evident from the portfolio at the foot of the cabinet, artifacts used in his paintings, and three other works from his own hand. On the basis of the internal evidence, this work can be dated to the early 1890s. Each piece by Gerome-Tanagra, Bust of Selene (far left), Hoop Dancer (far right), and Pygmalion and Galatea- dates from around 1890. Thus, The Artist and His Model may have been painted as early as 1890 but no later than 1893, by which date it was in the collection of Charles T. Yerkes.
Gerome's fastidiousness was legendary, so it is not surprising that he depicted an impeccable tidy studio and presented himself as well groomed despite the physical labor. The painting itself displays the same love of order; the figures are well centered and bracketed by studio paraphernalia. The unified effect is reinforced by the reverberation of blues, pinks, browns, and whites throughout the painting. In a master stroke of composition, the artist accented the core group against a striking blue wall, yet stopped the stark white statue from coming abruptly forward by placing it behind the pale pink model.
Despite the carefully calculated composition, Gerome actively argued that nature was the foundation of his art. He placed the model next to his statue for constant reference in order to bring his marble to life, his Tanagra acquired the proportions of a modern woman, but she is intended to personify the archaeological site in Boeotia, where numerous ancient terra cottas were unearthed in the 1870s. Gerome was among many who were wildly enthusiastic about these charming figures. The final sculpture held a small version of the Hoop Dancer- the artist's interpretation of a Tanagra statuette-in her outstretched hand.
Size (inches): 20 1/4 x 15 1/4
Medium: Oil on Canvas
Location: McKee Room