Jean Leon Gerome

Jean Lion Gerome was born on May, 1824 in Vesoul France and died January on 10, 1904. Gerome was a sculptor, painter and teacher whose best works were inspired by scenes he visited in Egypt. Gerome combined the oriental style and neoclassic themes into his artwork to bring out a photographic effect of the image.  This is enhanced by the authentic detailing with less error that illustrates the painting as perceived by belief in real life situation. The painting illustrates a social and political propaganda advanced by Gerome who depicts the Egyptian culture as backward and less sophisticated as compared to the French imperialist.

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Gerome’s works were largely inspired by neoclassic and oriental expressions which were regularly entangled with photographic realism centered on detail articulation. Gerome’s first painting was an illustration of a flippantly clothed young woman and a nude youth. During the late 1950s and the early 1960s, Gerome intensified his inclusion of the classic and the oriental themes in his paintings which brought him much free publicity and success in his career (Weisberg 1). In 1856, Gerome travelled to Egypt where he attained more understanding and got more information for expansion of his Middle East art collection.

Gerome’s works illustrated his commitment in restructuring history through art, for the public to understand. Gerome’s painted scenes were significant, making it difficult for his art viewers to ignore them. Gerome’s photographic realism created a feeling of eye witness to the scenes he painted. The painting Public Prayer in the Mosque of Amr by Gerome does not represent the actual scene in the mosque as no nude people can be found offering prayers in the mosque (Weisberg, 1). The painting does not represent any religious atmosphere due to the illustration of a nude man in the mosque. Public Prayer in the Mosque of Amr painting highly reflects the neoclassic painting technique that emphasizes the linear illustration of classical themes in their traditional costumes and archaeological environment. The painting illustrated by Gerome is an authentic representation of the traditional mosque with faithful prayers.

The effect of Orientalism in Gerome’s work is highly illustrated as he makes use of light to bring out the mystical impression of the painting. Besides, the photographic impression in the painting depicts a visual representation of the situation as taken a photograph. According to Linda Nochlin, Orientalism is a natural painting artwork adopted by Gerome. In the Public Prayer in the Mosque of Amr painting, Gerome does not present western influences like introduction of a western man. Besides, the painting lacks timelessness or history; thus depicts no influence of western powers on the society modernization (130).  The painting further depicts the oriental photographic representation as the painting depicts no effect of the artist modifying the painting to suit his interests (Nochlin, 188). Moreover, lack of labor scene in the painting illustrates the orientalist impression.

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The Public Prayer in the Mosque of Amr painting is highly related to Gerome’s previous works such as The Horse Dealer, Prayer on the Housetops, Prayer in the House of an Arnaut Chief 1857 and the Harem Pool among other paintings. Gerome’s paintings represent a real authentic image as perceived by the eye in real-life situation.

The Public Prayer in the Mosque of Amr painting illustrates the theme of political and social propaganda. Gerome as a French painter represented the French Imperialism through his paintings by depicting Egypt as a barbaric, backward and lawless country. The theme is enhanced through the orientalist impression depicted by Gerome in the painting, whereby the painting is illustrated as a photographic scene which resembles a realm mosque scene as perceived by the eye.  Moreover, lack of western white man in the painting further enhances the barbaric propaganda of the society (Meagher 1).  

The nineteenth century scenes were used by the painters as propaganda in supporting the French imperialists my depicting the Eastern Nations as backward in civilization. The painting depicts the Egyptian architecture, population, and the way of life as well as exotic dressings which propagandize the society as barbaric and backward. Lack of proper floor covering as depicted by the rugged floor and scare carpets as well as presence of animals in the mosque is a propaganda aimed at illustrating the backwardness of the Egyptian society (Meagher 1).  Gerome promoted his support to the French imperialist through his artwork by illustrating the Egyptian culture as less sophisticated than French. The Public Prayer in the Mosque of Amr is a representation of one of the scene witnessed by Gerome while he was visiting Egypt. As a result, the painting clearly fits as a propaganda painting depicted the primitive and barbaric Egyptian society.

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In conclusion, Public Prayer in the Mosque of Amr, an oriental painting, combined the neoclassic themes to bring out a detailed image of Muslims offering prayers in the mosque.

The painting is an illustration of a social and political propaganda advanced by Gerome who depicts the Egyptian culture as backward and less sophisticated as compared to the French culture. 

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