Lot 6
  • 6

Jean-Léon Gérôme

100,000 - 150,000 USD
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  • Jean-Léon Gérôme
  • La Vierge, L'Enfant Jesus et Saint Jean
  • signed J. L. GÉRÔME  and dated 1848 (lower left)
  • oil on canvas, within a painted arch
  • 42 3/4 by 29 1/2 in.
  • 108.5 by 75 cm


Tedesco Frères, Paris
John Levy Gallery, New York
Sir Charles and Lady Gunning (and sold, American Art Association, New York, April 27, 1933, lot 12, illustrated)
Plaza Curiosity Shop (acquired at the above sale)
Hammer Galleries, New York (by 1966)
Dr. Daniel Ivancho, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (by 1966)
Sale: Sotheby's, New York, October 31, 1985, lot 46, illustrated
Sale: Sotheby's, New York, October 12, 1994, lot 81, illustrated
Private Collection (acquired at the above sale, and sold, Sotheby's, London, November 14, 2007, lot 334, illustrated)
Acquired at the above sale


Paris, Salon, 1848, no. 1933
Los Angeles, The J. Paul Getty Museum; Paris, Musée d'Orsay; Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, The Spectacular Art of Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824-1904), June 2010 - May 2011, no. 13


Gérôme, oeuvres, Paris, Cabinet des Estampes, Bibliothèque Nationale (28 volumes of mounted photographs of Gérôme's paintings and sculptures, the gift of his widow), vol. 27, no. 8
Louis Clement de Ris, L'Artiste, vol. I, 1848, p. 59-60
Theodore Gautier, "Salon de 1848," La Presse, April 27, 1848, p. 1
F. de Lagenevais, Revue des Deux Mondes, no. 2, 1848, p. 288-9
F. Pillet, Le Moniteur universel, April 11, 1848, p. 812
Gazette des Beaux-Arts, vol. 5, March 15, 1860, p. 328-30
Le Moniteur officiel, March 21, 1860
Fanny Field Hering, Gérôme. His Life and Works, New York, 1892, p. 57
Jean-Léon Gérôme 1824-1904, Peintre, sculpteur et graveur. Ses oeuvres conservées dans les collections françaises publiques et privées, exh. cat., Musée Garret, Vesoul, 1981, p. 111, illustrated
Raphaël et l'art français, exh. cat., Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris, 1983, p. 275, illustrated
Gerald M. Ackerman, The Life and Work of Jean-Léon Gérôme with a Catalogue raisonné, London, 1986, pp. 34, 37, 186-7, no. 20, illustrated
Gerald M. Ackerman, Jean-Léon Gérôme. Monographie révisée. Catalogue raisonné mis à jour, Paris, 2000, pp. 36, 38, 214-5, no. 20, illustrated


The following condition report was kindly provided by Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc.: This early work by the artist is painted in a very detailed and careful manner. The painting is clean and shows an old glue lining on the reverse. Under ultraviolet light, there is a restoration in the sky between the trees and the right shoulder of the Madonna addressing a 1 ½ inch vertical loss. There is a small restoration in the left shoulder of Christ and right wrist of Saint John. They work is completely un-abraded, and the details throughout are perfectly preserved. Although the work may respond slightly to cleaning, it is recommended that it be hung in its current state.
"This lot is offered for sale subject to Sotheby's Conditions of Business, which are available on request and printed in Sotheby's sale catalogues. The independent reports contained in this document are provided for prospective bidders' information only and without warranty by Sotheby's or the Seller."

Catalogue Note

La Vierge, L'Enfant Jesus et Saint Jean was completed in the months leading up to the June Days and the Proclamation of the Second Republic in 1848, and was one of three entries that a young Jean-Léon Gérôme submitted to the Salon of that year, alongside his Anacreon (1848, Musée des Augustins, Toulouse) and his Portrait of Armand Gérôme (1848, The National Gallery, London). Though Gérôme was in Paris throughout the period of revolution and even captained a unit of the National Guard, his art remained without political charge.  Very late in life he told his devoted friend and admirer Fanny Field Hering, an American journalist, that he had had little to do with the affairs of his time, “except in regard to all that pertained to the Fine Arts” (Ackerman, 1986, p. 33). If anything, the chaos, the terror, and the continual change of regimes may have been the very reason for his retreat into political neutralism.

Thoughtfully designed and remarkably poised, this delicate portrayal of the Madonna with Saint John the Baptist and the Christ Child posed in a harmonious triangle displays the influence of Raphael’s La Belle Jardinière (1507-1508, Paris, Musée de Louvre, fig. 1), while also paying homage to artists including Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Pietro Perugino, and his teacher, Paul Delaroche.  Gérôme, however, offers his own rendition of Raphael’s masterpiece and the traditional iconography of the scene, depicting a young John the Baptist tenderly proffering a kiss to the young Christ Child.  Gérôme’s compositional trope would appear just a few years later in William Bouguereau’s Fraternal Love (1851, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, fig. 2).

With its historicising and sacred subject matter, sumptuous colors, and sensuous outlines, this painting epitomizes the classicism championed by Gérôme and his friends, Henri-Pierre Picou and Jean-Louis Hamon, all of whom lived together in the Chalet, an artist’s commune on the rue de Fleurus during the late 1840s and early 1850s.  In his review of the 1848 Salon published in La Presse on April 27, 1848, Théophile Gautier praised the painting’s unconventional marrying of the archaic and the classical:  “Although he is a pagan from Pompeii, Gérôme also has an understanding of Christian Art.  His ‘Saint John Kissing the Infant Jesus on the Lap of the Virgin’ could have been painted by Overbeck, were it not for the fact that Overbeck does not have that deep understanding of drawing, and that exquisite taste hidden behind the naïvity of the Gothic pastiche.  Gérôme is heading for Calvary, but his route takes him via Athens” (as quoted in The Spectacular Art of Jean-Léon Gérôme, exh. cat., 2010, p. 47).

Gérôme painted a reduced replica in 1853 (now lost, Ackerman, no. 49).