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PROPERTY FROM A EUROPEAN PRIVATE COLLECTION

Jean-Léon Gérôme
FRENCH
THE GRAIN THRESHERS, EGYPT
Estimate
80,000120,000
LOT SOLD. 100,000 GBP
JUMP TO LOT
10

PROPERTY FROM A EUROPEAN PRIVATE COLLECTION

Jean-Léon Gérôme
FRENCH
THE GRAIN THRESHERS, EGYPT
Estimate
80,000120,000
LOT SOLD. 100,000 GBP
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

The Orientalist Sale

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London

Jean-Léon Gérôme
1824 - 1904
FRENCH
THE GRAIN THRESHERS, EGYPT
signed and dated J.L. Gerome / 1859 lower left
oil on canvas
43 by 75cm., 17 by 29½in.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Goupil & Cie, Paris (acquired from the artist)
Édouard Werlé, Reims (acquired from the above in 1859. Werlé, 1801-84, rose through the ranks of French champagne house Clicquot-Ponsardin and took full control of the house upon Mme Clicquot's death in 1866; he also had a political career, as mayor of Reims and a député of the corps législatif); thence by descent to the present owners

Exhibited

Paris, Salon, 1861, no. 1252 (as Hache-paille égyptien)
Paris, Exposition Universelle, 1867 (lent by M. Wherle)

Literature

Magazine Pittoresque, Paris, XXIXe année, 1861, p. 173 (a reversed engraving after the present work illustrated)
Gerald M. Ackerman, The life and work of Jean-Léon Gerome, London, 1986, pp. 206-07, catalogued and illustrated (as The Egyptian Grain-Cutter, lost); p. 56, described
Gerald M. Ackerman, Jean-Léon Gérôme, Monographie révisée, Catalogue raisonné, mis à jour, Paris, 2000, pp. 242-43, no. 117, catalogued and illustrated (as Un Hache-paille égyptien; lost, dimensions unknown); p. 53, described
The Spectacular Art of Jean-Léon Gérôme, (exh. cat.), Los Angeles, Paris, Madrid, 2010, p. 96, cited

Catalogue Note

In the same family for over a century and unseen in public since the 1860s, the present work is a significant rediscovery, and a landmark work in Gérôme's Orientalist œuvre. According to Gerald Ackerman, such was Emperor Napoleon III's admiration for the present work that he attempted to purchase it through the Comte de Nieuwerkerke, but was unsuccessful.

Following his first trip to Egypt in 1856, Gérôme exhibited Orientalist subjects for the first time at the Paris Salon of 1857, winning praise notably from the critic Théophile Gautier. Exhibiting non-Orientalist subjects at the next Salon in 1859, in 1861 Gérôme exhibited six works - included notably the scandalous Phryné devant le tribunal - with the present work as the only Egyptian subject. Ackerman identifies these three Salons as the most important of the artist's career, at a time when Gérôme was at the height of his powers.

Referred to in the Bible, and named variously as a noreg or moreg, the ox-drawn machinery visible in the present work was used as a threshing instrument, and an alternative to the direct trampling of the cut grain by oxen which Gérôme also later painted in the 1860s. The classicising, frieze-like composition emphasises the pre-industrial, timeless aspect of the scene, as well as Gérôme's respectful curiosity for the routines and rhythms of Egyptian life. 

Gérôme made his first of many trips to Egypt in 1856, with the sculptor and photographer Auguste Bartholdi in 1855-56, and on another trip in 1868, this time accompanied by his brother-in-law the photographer Albert Goupil and fellow painters Paul Lenoir, Léon Bonnat, and Willem de Famars Testas. He was therefore familiar with the people, land and local culture and continued to visit Egypt, as well as Turkey, Palestine and Algeria, numerous times throughout the remainder of his life.

The present work was engraved on several occasions, notably by Shinn-Strahan and Roujon.

The Orientalist Sale

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London