Lot 99
  • 99

Jean-Léon Gérôme

20,000 - 30,000 GBP
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  • Jean-Léon Gérôme
  • femme voilée (a veiled woman)
  • signed: J. L. GÉROME and stamped: 897H FRANCE
  • bronze and marble, left arm replaced


George Harding, Chicago
George F. Harding Museum, 1939
The Art Institute Chicago, 1982, deaccessioned 1994
Private Collection, France


G. M. Ackerman, The life and work of Jean-Léon Gérôme, Paris, 1986, no. S. 65


Overall the condition of the figure is very good with some minor wear to the surface consistent with age. The left arm has been replaced as stated in the catalogue. There may have been some restoration to the left ankle under the drapery. There is some greening to the bronze patina in the crevices.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

The three-dimensional oeuvre reinvigorated the work of Gérôme in his late years.   His early career was entirely devoted to painting and he is best known for his orientalist work. But he also had a fascination for the classical world, in particular the arts of Greece. Gerome received grounding in ancient studies from his father and he understood both Latin and Greek. Greece itself, newly independent from the Ottoman Empire, still retained the aura of the orient and at the time an interest in classically inspired subjects did not seem incompatible with the lure of the east. In the same way the Danseuse à la pomme (sold: Sothebys London 27 February 1998, Lot 222) reflects the dichotomy, the present bronze has more of the orient about it, notably in the exotic dress, the footwear and the veil, suggesting Islamic rectitude. In many ways it prefigures the work of Klimt and the later symbolists, in its arresting direct attitude, almost reminiscent of an icon and its mysterious mien.

Indeed, Gérôme did not take up sculpture until late in his career, his first work dating from 1868. It seems that the firm of Goupil first adapted his work as sculpture, mindful of the contemporary vogue for small bronzes and aware of the commercial appeal of his major salon paintings. He was encouraged by the sculptor Frémiet and described himself as his pupil in the catalogue of the Salon for 1901.

Much has been made of the development of the use of colour in sculpture in the nineteenth century and Gérôme was particularly fascinated with the school of Tanagra, the name given to the small tinted figures, which reflected ordinary life in ancient Greece and originated in the Boeotian village of Tanagra. The use of tinted marble and patinated bronze in the present work exemplifies this fascination. Philip Ward-Jackson in the catalogue of the exhibition The Colour of Sculpture, refers specifically to the exceptional patinas achieved by the Siot-Decauville foundry and quotes a contemporary who wrote, 'there is the vert Barye, new or old depending on whether it has chestnut glazes on the higher planes, or paler tones scattering their droplets of light over the extremities; there is the patine fleurier in which red flecks sing out like poppies strewn in the rusty pallor of ripened cornfields; there is the patine giroflée which gives you an admirable intensity of red on  a green ground; there is vert antique, there is patine vieille or patine herbeuse, patine d'argent and more besides.' He goes on 'I have seen in the workshop a bronze destined for the museum at Vienna... never have such patinas been obtained; there are surfaces on it, in which you can imagine the blood circulating beneath skin; oxydisation has here produced chords whose harmony astonishes.'

This lot is sold together with an expertise by Gerald M. Ackerman.

A. Blühm, The Colour of Sculpture, 1804-1910, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, 1996