Lot 6
  • 6

Jean-Léon Gérôme

180,000 - 250,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Jean-Léon Gérôme
  • Bashi-Bazouk
  • signed J.L. GEROME lower right
  • oil on canvas
  • 26 by 21.5cm., 10¼ by 8½in.
  • 26 by 21.4 cm


Goupil et Cie, Paris (no. 5229)
Samuel P. Avery, New York (acquired through his intermediary George A. Lucas from the above in 1870)
Probably, John Taylor Johnston (sale: Chickering Hall, New York, 19 December 1876, lot 31)
John W. Garrett, Baltimore, Maryland
Estate of Mary E. Garrett (sale: American Art Association, New York, 4 April 1918, lot 9)
Fred J. Blanck
Sale: Parke-Bernet, New York, 23 January 1952, lot 6
Scott & Fowles, New York
Shepherd Gallery, New York (by the 1970s)
Kenneth Jay Lane, New York (sale: Sotheby's, New York, 27 October 1988, lot 55)
Private Collection, New York (acquired by the present owner circa 2001)


Possibly, Paris, Cercle de l'Union artistique, 1869 (either this work or fig. 1)


Les Œuvres de J.-L. Gérôme (MS, 29 vol., Cabinet des Estampes, Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris), vol. XIV, no. 6, illustrated
Edward Strahan, ed., The Art Treasures of America, Philadelphia, 1877, vol. III, pp. 76-7, p. 80, illustrated from a sketch by the artist
Catalogue de Paris, (MS, Cabinet des Estampes, Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris), 1883, p. 40, cited
Gerald M. Ackerman, The Life and Work of Jean-Léon Gérôme with a Catalogue Raisonné, London, 1986, p. 226, no. 192, catalogued; pp. 78 & 227, illustrated
Gerald M. Ackerman, Jean-Léon Gérôme, Monographié révisée, Catalogue Raisonné mis à jour, Paris, 2000, p. 272, no. 192, catalogued; p. 273, illustrated

Catalogue Note

Painted circa 1869, Gérôme's striking half-length portrait shows a decorated bashi-bazouk warrior, an irregular soldier of the Ottoman army, from the chest up, and seated in a three-quarters pose against a dark background. He looks out over his right shoulder, while he grasps his long, thin rifle, the whites of his knuckles revealing the tension of his grip. His fine features and rigid pose seem carved from stone and at first glance, the warrior appears almost reluctant in his heavy costume, the seriousness behind his large, almond-shaped eyes, an image counter to the late eighteenth- early nineteenth-century public perception of bashi-bazouks as violent, undisciplined and ferocious. His vibrant multi-coloured turban, comprised of alternating stripes, solids, and ikat patterns, forms a distinctive cone shape atop his head, the dangling tassels and various strings framing his reflective expression. Gérôme appears primarily occupied with the formal elements of his subject; the intricacies of his colourful turban, the sheen of his luminous skin, the heavy folds of green and white fabric draped on his shoulder, the gleam of his highly polished weapons. The resulting image is one which combines a meticulous approach to detail with a devotion to ethnographic accuracy; each underscoring Gérôme's abiding fascination with subject.

Bashi-Bazouk was purchased by Samuel P. Avery – one of the most successful American art dealers in the nineteenth century – from Gérôme's dealer (and father-in-law) Adolphe Goupil with the assistance of American art agent George A. Lucas. Avery perhaps purchased the painting for the well-known New York collector John Taylor Johnston, whose legacy includes helping found the Metropolitan Museum of Art and acting as its first President. His collection was unparalleled during his lifetime, comprising masterworks by some of the most important European and contemporary American artists, and ultimately sold seventeen years before his death in a highly publicized auction at Chickering Hall conducted by Avery. The auction included a painting by Gérôme called Bashi-Bazouk, perhaps the present work, which sold for the impressive price of 1,200 dollars.  Avery placed at least two other examples of Gérôme's bashi-bazouks in prominent American collections – Bashi-Bazouk Singing (1868) to William T. Walters (now in the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore) and Bashi-Bazouk (1869) to Henry T. Cox (now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York).