Property from the Najd Collection
1824 - 1904
Femmes au bain
signed J. L. GEROME lower left
oil on canvas
57 by 47cm., 22½ by 18½in.
The canvas is lined and is securely attached to a keyed wooden stretcher, possibly the original, with an additional loose lining. This is providing a stable support.
The paint surface is stable. There are some fine lines of hairline craquelure, notably in the lower right quadrant. However, these are not distracting and are only clearly visible upon close inspection.
The paint surface has a relatively even varnish layer.
Inspection under ultraviolet light shows scattered retouchings, including:
- several retouchings within and around the figure in blue in the background;
- several retouchings around the group of figures closer to the right edge;
- areas of retouching within the female figure in the lower right corner;
- fine lines and small spots of retouching in the arms and legs of the main female figure to the left; and
- several retouchings in the stonework in the foreground.
It should be noted these retouchings are not visible to the naked eye and do not appear to be addressing any structural restoration.
Overall, this work is in good condition and is ready to hang.
Presented in a decorative gilt frame with a nameplate.
"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.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."
Sale: Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 25 November 1977, lot 59 (as Femmes au bain maure)
Shepherd Gallery, New York (by 1983)
Mathaf Gallery, London
Purchased from the above
Oeuvres de J.L Gérôme, vol. III
Le Figaro illustré, July 1901 (titled Femmes au bain)
Possibly, Fanny Field Hering, The Life and Works of Jean-Léon Gérôme, New York, 1892, p. 264 (as Woman Bathing her Feet)
Gerald M. Ackerman, The Life and Work of Jean-Léon Gérôme, Paris, 1986, pp. 266-67, no. 375, catalogued & illustrated (as Women Bathing/Femmes au bain, circa 1889)
Caroline Juler, Najd Collection of Orientalist Paintings, London, 1991, p. 141, described, p. 152d, catalogued & illustrated
Gerald M. Ackerman, Jean-Léon Gérôme, Monographie révisée, Paris, 2000, p. 149, illustrated, pp. 326-27, no. 375, catalogued & illustrated (as Femmes au bain, circa 1889)
New York, Shepherd Gallery, Spring Exhibition, 1983, no. 59 (as Woman in an Oriental Bath House Sponging her Foot, circa 1875-1885 '?')
Munich, Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung; Brussels, Musées royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique; Marseille, Centre de la Vieille Charité; Orientalismus in Europa: Von Delacroix bis Kandinsky, 2011, illustrated in the catalogue
Six years after visiting the New Baths in Bursa in 1879, Gérôme produced the most celebrated and impressive of his bath scene paintings, La Grande piscine à Brousse. Exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1885, Fanny Field Hering recalled in her 1892 monograph on Gérôme that the picture 'aroused the most enthusiastic admiration' and declared that it was 'probably the most remarkable of his pictures of this genre' (Hering, Gérôme, His Life and Works, New York, 1892, p. 247). The success of that painting prompted the artist to paint a series of bath scenes which went on to occupy a central position within his oeuvre in the 1880s and 1890s.
The interior, with its wall of blue tiles, may have been assembled from photographs, memories, and Gérôme's own props (sections of his studio were covered with tiles he had brought back with him from the Middle East). He visited Constantinople twice in 1875 where he met the Abdullah brothers, the famous Turkish photographers and founders of the Abdullah Frères firm, as well as his old student Seker Ahmet Pasha. Later, in 1877, Abdullah Frères arranged the taking of specific photographs of the city, mainly of interiors, which Gérôme was able to use to work up backgrounds such as the present one.
We are grateful to Dr Emily M. Weeks for her assistance in cataloguing this work which will be included in her revision of the artist's catalogue raisonné by Gerald M. Ackerman.