Game of Checkers
Artist Jean Gerome
Jean Gerome, from 1824 - 1904, near Vesoul, France.
- The artwork of the French artist epitomized the
term ‘Academic Art’,
which was painting and sculpture produced under the influence of
the Academies of Europe, especially in France.
- The artistic style was characterized by a highly
polished genre that utilized mythology or historical
subject matter and was often moralistic in tone.
- Artist Jean Gerome was
a French painter and sculptor, who, early
in his life, studied art in the studio
and under the guidance of Paul Delaroche.
- Jean Gerome struggled for the first
few years, painting religious cards and
selling them on the steps of churches in
order to survive, but finally left for
Italy; however, it was from Delaroche that Gerome
inherited his highly finished academic
- In the late 1840s, Jean Gerome
received a monumental commission from the
French government to paint the massive
Age of Augustus and in preparation for
this artistic challenge, artist Jean Gerome
traveled extensively throughout Europe
and Asia Minor, documenting the customs
of various regions.
- Jean Gerome then spent
two years creating the commissioned painting,
tirelessly perfecting details of various
- Using the payment from the painting,
artist Jean Gerome indulged
his wanderlust and spent many months traveling
and sketching in Egypt and then in the
winter of 1871, he spent time in Turkey,
Spain and Algiers in 1873, and Holland
in 1874, where he studied under Frans Hals.
- Jean Gerome
returned to Turkey in 1879 and then again
moved on to Egypt in 1880.
- These travels were followed by trips to Greece in
1881, London in 1888, Sicily in 1890 and finally to Italy
in 1889 with François Flameng and Victor Clairin.
- Artist Jean Gerome's
highly finished, anecdotal paintings were
fused with mythology, history, fantasy,
sentimentality and often eroticism because
of his love for the Neo-Classical style
of art with the focus on the graceful and
intimate subjects of antiquity.
- His artwork, though often melodramatic, was brilliant
in detail and polish, but he was best known for his images
and scenes from the Middle East.
- In game of checkers artist Jean Gerome's
Playing Draughts’ (The Checkers
Players) of 1859, Gerome's
image depicted a leisurely scene where
Moors in Egypt were immersed in a checkers
game and the viewer is drawn into a historical
moment in time by the Middle Eastern
setting and the authentic dress of the
- The painter’s classical use of the dramatic
lighting against a dark, muted background brought the
focus to the theme of the composition, which was the game
of checkers and the triangular grouping of the two checkers
players and the spectator.
- Minimal color was strategically placed in the clothing
of the Arnauts and in stark contrast to the white of the
against the dark shadow of the table, which then draws the
attention to the checkerboard.
- Gerome's painting
of the game of checkers activity also depicted
very realistic poses and an atmosphere
of concentration that surrounded the game
- Scenes like the image of the Arnauts playing checkers
won the artist great popularity and gave him considerable
influence as an upholder of academic tradition and enemy
of progressive trends in art such as Impressionism.
- Gerome's art demonstrated a love for
traditionalism and authentic detail and
he was a great proponent of the orientalist
movement as evidenced in the checkers game.
- For the last twenty five years of his
life, however, artist Jean Gerome
concentrated mainly on his sculpture and
his studio quickly became a meeting place
for artists, actors and writers.
- Ca. 1864, he was appointed a professor at the
École des Beaux-Arts and became a legendary
and respected master, who was noted for his sardonic
wit, lax discipline, regimented teaching methods and
extreme hostility to the Impressionists.
- It was mainly this attitude towards Impressionism
that caused the decline of Jean Gerome's
popularity towards the end of his life.
- Checkers artist Jean Gerome died in Paris
in 1904 but left an amazing legacy of artwork
and historical account of his earlier travels.