Pygmalion and Galatea by Jean-Léon Gérôme
Pygmalion and Galatea by Jean-Léon Gérôme

Pygmalion and Galatea c1890 by French Painter Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824 – 1904), was also an accomplished sculptor of the Academic Period; being considered one of the most important artist of that period.

His interpretation of the Greek Mythological story of Pygmalion and Galatea, Pygmalion is shown kissing his ivory statue which he named Galatea at the exact moment the Goddess of Love, Aphrodite or Venus from the Roman perspective brings the statue to life in an answer to his prayer; with Cupid the God of Love off to the right aiming an arrow from his bow at the couple, along with what appears to be the mask of Comedy and Tragedy sitting on ledge on the wall below Cupid.

This painting is one of three that he did showing the miraculous event from different points of reference.

This is a retouched digital art reproduction of a public domain image.

Info Below From

Jean-Léon Gérôme (11 May 1824 – 10 January 1904) was a French painter and sculptor in the style now known as academicism. His paintings were so widely reproduced that he was “arguably the world’s most famous living artist by 1880.”[1] The range of his oeuvre included historical painting, Greek mythology, Orientalism, portraits, and other subjects, bringing the academic painting tradition to an artistic climax. He is considered one of the most important painters from this academic period.

In 1840 he went to Paris, where he studied under Paul Delaroche, whom he accompanied to Italy in 1843. He visited Florence, Rome, the Vatican and Pompeii. On his return to Paris in 1844, like many students of Delaroche, he joined the atelier of Charles Gleyre and studied there for a brief time. He then attended the École des Beaux-Arts. In 1846 he tried to enter the prestigious Prix de Rome, but failed in the final stage because his figure drawing was inadequate.

His painting The Cock Fight (1846) is an academic exercise depicting a nude young man and a very thinly draped young woman with two fighting cocks, with the Bay of Naples in the background. He sent this painting to the Paris Salon of 1847, where it gained him a third-class medal. This work was seen as the epitome of the Neo-Grec movement that had formed out of Gleyre’s studio (including Henri-Pierre Picou and Jean-Louis Hamon), and was championed by the influential French critic Théophile Gautier, whose review made Gérôme famous and effectively launched his career.

Gérôme abandoned his dream of winning the Prix de Rome and took advantage of his sudden success. His paintings The Virgin, the Infant Jesus and Saint John and Anacreon, Bacchus and Eros took a second-class medal at the Paris Salon in 1848. In 1849, he produced the paintings Michelangelo (also called In his Studio) and A Portrait of a Lady.

In 1851, he decorated a vase later offered by Emperor Napoleon III of France to Prince Albert, now part of the Royal Collection at St. James’s Palace, London. He exhibited Greek Interior, Souvenir d’Italie, Bacchus and Love, Drunk in 1851; Paestum in 1852; and An Idyll in 1853

In 1852, Gérôme received a commission to paint a large mural of an allegorical subject of his choosing. The Age of Augustus, the Birth of Christ, which would combine the birth of Christ with conquered nations paying homage to Augustus, may have been intended to flatter Napoleon III, whose government commissioned the mural and who was identified as a “new Augustus.

A considerable down payment enabled Gérôme to travel and research, first in 1853 to Constantinople, together with the actor Edmond Got, and in 1854 to Greece and Turkey and the shores of the Danube, where he was present at a concert of Russian conscripts making music under the threat of a lash.

In 1853, Gérôme moved to the Boîte à Thé, a group of studios in the Rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs, Paris. This would become a meeting place for artists, writers and actors, where George Sand entertained the composers Hector Berlioz, Johannes Brahms and Gioachino Rossini and the novelists Théophile Gautier and Ivan Turgenev.

In 1854, he completed another important commission, decorating the Chapel of St. Jerome in the church of St. Séverin in Paris. His Last Communion of St. Jerome in this chapel reflects the influence of the school of Ingres on his religious works.

To the Universal Exhibition of 1855 he contributed Pifferaro, Shepherd, and The Age of Augustus, the Birth of Christ, but it was the modest painting Recreation in a Russian Camp that garnered the most attention…

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