- Jean-Léon Gérôme
- Nude (Queen Rodophe)
- bears signature J L GÉROME (lower right)
- oil on canvas
Max Schweitzer Gallery (acquired from the above in 1970, and sold, Sotheby's, New York, April 20, 2005, lot 6, illustrated)
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner
New York, Dahesh Museum of Art; Palm Beach, Society of the Four Arts, Against the Modern: Dagnan-Bouveret and the Rebirth of the Academic Tradition, February 2003 (lent by the Schweitzer Family)
Gerald M. Ackerman, Jean-Léon Gérôme. Monographie révisée. Catalogue raisonné mis à jour, Paris, 2000, p. 242-3, no. 111.4, illustrated (as Nu de dos/La Reine Rodophe)
Gabriel P. Weisberg, Against the Modern: Dagnan-Bouveret and the Transformation of the Academic Tradition, exh. cat., Dahesh Museum of Art, New York, 2002, p. 33-4, illustrated fig. 25 (as Study for King Candaules)
The queen—undressing herself at bedtime—was the focal point in the finished composition. Aside from its corporeal and technical beauty and the freshness of execution, the unfinished figure is of great interest. It demonstrates how Gérôme painted a figure and the order in which he approached various components of a composition. The painter first transferred the outline of a careful drawing of the queen onto a prepared canvas. He then commenced painting her inside the outline, working from the top to the bottom, building up the shape, the shadows and the color, bringing in turn each section of the body into a near-finished state. Painting a solid, opaque figure instead of filling in the outline with a series of ever thicker and more detailed layers, was unorthodox (although something similar would be championed in the 1860s by Gérôme's younger contemporary, Édouard Manet). Once the figure was completed in this opaque manner and the background had been painted in, he would finish it with a top glaze, blending the transitional passages, giving unity to the figureand adjusting its coloring to that of the background.
There is a similar nude with an unfinished background in the Museum of fine Arts in Boston. In Gérôme's 1893 painting, Sculpturæ vitam insufflat pictura, also known as Painting Breathes Life Into Scultpure, in the Art Gallery of Ontario, the artist included a small statuette of the figure among the wares on the shelf of a shop in ancient Tanagra (see lot 7).
We remain grateful to Gerald Ackerman, who provided this catalogue entry in 2005.