JEAN-LÉON GÉRÔME (Vesoul 1824 - Paris 1904)
Les deux majestés (The Two Majesties)
Oil on canvas
25 x 44 cm (9 ⁷/₈ x 17 ³/₈ inches)
Signed bottom right “A ma fille Suzanne / JL Gérôme”
Provenance: Suzanne Gérôme given by her father, ca. 1900; Gaspard Felix Tournachon, called Nadar, ca. 1904; Jules Bourgeois, Tournachon’s assistant, ca. 1904-1909; Given to his goddaughter, Angèle Saverse, 1910, Thence by descent to Guy Saverse, 1979 and to Christiane Bonafède, 1984, Private Collection, South-West France.
In the 1880s, the celebrated French academic painter Jean-Léon Gérôme began a series of animal pictures featuring lions, tigers, and other big game cats.[i] The impressive number of these works produced over the course of the next two decades establishes them as an important subgenre within the artist’s oeuvre, with both art historical and personal significance. Among the earliest and most enigmatic of Gérôme’s lion pictures from this period is Les deux majestés (The Two Majesties) of 1883, now at the Milwaukee Art Museum (fig. 1). The present painting is an oil sketch for this finished work, given by the artist to his daughter four years before his death.