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Jean-Léon Gérôme
French, 1824 - 1904

Interior of a Mosque, 1890-1899
French Painting
Oil on canvas
23 3/8 x 35 3/8 in. (59.4 x 89.9 cm)

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. F. Harper Sibley,  57.18

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About the Object

An enthusiastic amateur archaeologist, Gérôme painted dozens of Eastern scenes over his long career, including a number of mosque interiors.  Although the mosque seen here has not been identified, the artist was known to have travelled in Asia Minor, the Middle East, and North Africa, and it is believed that this elaborate interior is a composite, made up of details from a number of specific sites.  The worshippers assume accurate postures for their devotions, from the initial upright recitation of vows to the final prostration before God.

Gérôme was a firm proponent of the Academic style: he taught at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and won national honors and the patronage of royalty.  Although his pupils had included icons of modernism such as Fernand Leger and Everett Shinn, Gérôme was initially opposed to any challenges to the supremacy of the Academy.  In the face of increasing opposition to his conservative viewpoint, he declared that the work of the Impressionists was "insipid and badly executed."

[Gallery label text, 2011]