(1824 Vesoul – Paris 1904)
Study of a White Horse
Oil on canvas glued to cardboard
210 x 320 mm
Inscribed in graphite pencil, lower right : J L Gérôme/Aimé Morot
Gérôme was one of the principal representatives of Realist academic painting during the Second Empire.
A scrupulous observer of nature, throughout his long career he made meticulous studies for his large compositions; while on his Italian trip, accompanied by his teacher, Delaroche, he wrote from Rome: “I am doing studies of architecture, landscape, figures and animals. I feel that I am finally waking up to contact with nature.” Little by little his Ingres-like style gave in to a taste for objectivity. He depicted pets, but without sentimentalism, as in his magnificent Newfoundland Dog (USA, private collection).
In our small study done in the studio (as can be seen by the marks of thumbtacks at the four corners of the canvas, which was probably tacked directly to the wall before being glued to canvas), we again see how careful Gérôme was in his realism: the hair of the coat is subtly rendered, the bulge of the muscles and the folds of skin treated meticulously. The layout is simple, with the animal in profile against a background which is neutral but gives an excellent idea of the depth of the space, lending a timeless feel to the work.
Aimé Morot (1850 – 1913), son-in-law of Gérôme and very close to the latter. Their great complicity was both affective et professional, and after the death of his father-in-law, he inscribed the name “Gérôme” followed by his own on certain of the works that were in the studio of the artist, to attest to their authenticity. This is the case in particular for the painting that concerns us here.