Let’s look back to the 19th century in art history: With “Impression soleil levant” – painted by Claude Monet in 1872 – the new way of painting was given a name: impressionism: This special way of painting where the reality seems to fade away for the liberty of the spectator´s descrete thinking. Until today people are fascinated about that kind of inspiration given to them by looking at those pictures painted by Monet, Renoir, Degas, Sisley etc.
Jean Leon Gerome (1824-1904) – one of the most recognized painters in his time – was a fighter for the “academic painting” and against the generation of realism and impressionism. He was able to paint history, he was able to give an impression of reality – just in another way. For me his pictures are highly attractive because of those elements of realism and giving impression of being part of this historic event.
In the 1980-ies during one of my Paris travels I acquired 2 letters of J.L. Gerome, which he has written to one of his students Jean Baptiste Duffaud (1853-1927): In one of those he asks Duffaud for sending back his “étude de paysage” which he has lended to him. He should leave it at his concierge. Maybe Gerome needed those études to remember details and to paint them in one of his masterworks in his studio.