Jean-Léon Gérôme and the Crisis of History Painting in the 1850s

Gülru Çakmak

- +

ISBN: 9781786940674

Publication: December 1, 2017

In the USA? Buy the Hardback US edition
A crisis in historical representation unfolded in French visual culture in the first half of the nineteenth century, reaching its climax at the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1855, when artists and critics alike came to a troubling realization: depictions of past heroes that had once held exceptional influence over their viewers now left the public indifferent. This book shows that underneath this crisis was a mounting demand for empirical observation in art, and an emergent modern epistemology that posited the past as foundational and yet inaccessible to the physically and historically specific individual. Since neither the painter nor the viewer could have actually experienced a bygone historical incident as it unfolded, was history painting even feasible in modern times? When historical representation seemed all but impossible to critics and artists of various hues, Gérôme came up with a momentous solution. A small group of paintings constitute the focus of this provocative study on the artist’s early work, whose pivotal role in Gérôme’s oeuvre as well as in the broader history of modernization of art have been so far unrecognized in art historical scholarship. In these, the artist charted a new roadmap for the art of painting in response to the modern sensibility of history.

Gülru Çakmak is Assistant Professor in the Department of the History of Art and Architecture at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

"An important, powerfully-argued book that reinserts Gérôme back into the pictorial mainstream of the 1850s and 1860s, even as it also makes the case for the original, searching, and ambitious character of Gerome's art at a decisive moment of his career. A welcome intervention that essentially rewrites the career of a still controversial artist, now back in the public eye.” Marc Gotlieb, Williams Graduate Program in the History of Art

'Gülru Çakmak's research inaugurates a new chapter in Gerome studies. She has thoroughly researched the critical and cultural history of his times, and her insights have enabled her to uncover the significance of his unique pictorial manner.'Professor Stephen Bann, University of Bristol

"Based on solid research, this exciting work takes the subject forward in a new and interesting direction, making a valuable contribution to scholarship."
Dr Patricia Smyth, University of Warwick

Format: Hardback

Size: 239 × 163 mm

256 Pages

13 colour illustrations and 36 B&W illustrations

ISBN: 9781786940674

Publication: December 1, 2017

Related products

Scroll to top