Jan 5, 2009

Leaving the Oasis

Leaving the Oasis


Jean-Léon Gérôme

(French, 1824–1904)

Oil on wood panel

Framed: 67.3 x 98.4 x 9.5 cm (26 1/2 x 38 3/4 x 3 3/4 in.); Unframed: 50 x 81.2 cm (19 11/16 x 31 15/16 in.)

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Noah L. Butkin 1977.126



Leaving the Oasis repeats several themes in Gérôme's art—camel caravans, oases, and expansive desert landscapes. As an academic realist, Gérôme painted everyday scenes in a meticulous and polished style. Here he carefully rendered the unique forms of the figures' dress and the camels' physical features, as well as the colors of the changing sky and the violet shadows cast by the airborne dogs and the legs of the camels. Although the picture's smoothness and detail suggest a photographic image, Gérôme actually composed his paintings in the studio, basing them on memories and sketches from his visits to the Near East. Following his first trip to Egypt in 1856, he developed into a major figure among 19th-century "Orientalists"—artists who specialized in representing Near Eastern life, culture, and landscapes.

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