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27

Jean-Léon Gérôme

Le Bain des femmes

Property from the Najd Collection

Jean-Léon Gérôme

Jean-Léon Gérôme

Le Bain des femmes

Le Bain des femmes

Property from the Najd Collection

Jean-Léon Gérôme

French

1824 - 1904

Le Bain des femmes


signed J. L. GEROME lower left

oil on canvas

Unframed: 65 by 55cm., 25½ by 21½in.

Framed: 97 by 86cm., 38 by 33¾in.


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.

The canvas has been relined. Ultra-violet light reveals some minor signs of retouching, notably strokes along the framing edges, a stroke in the main figure's chin, in the hair of the woman to the left, and some minor signs in the architecture. This painting is in good condition and ready to hang.


The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colors and shades which are different to the lot's actual color and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation. The condition report is a statement of opinion only. For that reason, the condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS ONLINE CONDITION REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE/BUSINESS APPLICABLE TO THE RESPECTIVE SALE.

Boussod, Valadon & Cie., Paris
Millard F. Tompkins (sale: American Art Association, New York, 5 March 1915, lot 46; as Roman Woman Bathing)
W. Rouss, New York (purchased at the above sale)
Joan Michelman, Ltd., New York (by 1981)
Mathaf Gallery, London (by 1982)
Purchased from the above 
Gerald M. Ackerman, The Life and Work of Jean-Léon Gérôme, Paris, 1986, p. 141, illustrated, pp. 266-67, no. 377, catalogued & illustrated (as Women’s Bath/Le Bain des femmes, circa 1889)
Caroline Juler, Najd Collection of Orientalist Paintings, London, 1991, p. 141, described, p. 152e, catalogued & illustrated
Gerald M. Ackerman, Jean-Léon Gérôme: His Life, His Work, Paris, 1997, p. 137, catalogued & illustrated (as The Women’s Bath, circa 1889)
Gerald M. Ackerman, Jean-Léon Gérôme, Monographie révisée, Paris, 2000, p. 146, illustrated, pp. 326-27, no. 377, catalogued & illustrated (as Le Bain des femmes, circa 1889)

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 subject of Le bain des femmes was not uncommon in nineteenth-century painting: Delacroix, Ingres, and Chassériau had already received critical acclaim for their various nudes set in Turkish interiors. Ingres' famous rendering of this subject in 1862 is an exotic fantasy of voluptuous, lascivious flesh and writhing bodies. In contrast with this, Gérôme's composition avoids even the mildest evocation of eroticism. The nude here, fully self-aware, is not represented as engaging in primitive sensuality but rather in the innocuous social activity of spending time at the bath.


Gérôme's bath scenes, painted in the rigorous, French academic style, recall the 'seen through the keyhole' glimpses of women at their toilette painted by the artist's friend and contemporary, Edgar Degas. Yet, while Degas' paintings adopt the avant-garde, Impressionist style, Gérôme's is the more radical. While Degas' women are unaware that they are being observed, Gérôme's model engages overtly with the viewer, fully cognisant that she is the object of the viewer's gaze, which she returns in kind.