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This artwork, Leda and the Swan by Jean-Léon Gérôme, is currently for sale at M.S. Rau Antiques.
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Jean-Léon Gérôme, Leda and the Swan
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TITLE:  Leda and the Swan
ARTIST:  Jean-Léon Gérôme (French, 1824–1904)
WORK DATE:  1895
CATEGORY:  Paintings
MATERIALS:  Oil on canvas
MARKINGS:  Signed J.L. Gerome, lower right
SIZE:  Canvas: 32.5 x 29 inches
Frame: 38 x 34.5 inches
STYLE:  Academic
PRICE*:  985,000 US$  (Convert prices to your currency with our Currency Converter)
GALLERY:  M.S. Rau Antiques  +1-800-544-9440  Send Email
DESCRIPTION:  This exquisite painting by acclaimed French artist Jean Leon Gerome depicts the highly charged mythological tale of Leda and the Swan. Lavish in its attention to decoration, and striking in its juxtaposition of porcelain skin with glistening water, Gerome's Leda demonstrates the artist as the quintessential academic, a master of texture and form. A champion of orientalism, Gerome lends to his depiction of Leda an intoxicating and exotic scenario. Instead of being ravaged by the swan, Leda openly embraces its arrival, transforming the myth into a surrealist vision of sensual delights.

The story of Leda and the Swan is a Greek myth where Zeus transforms into a swan and seduces Leda, the wife of Tyndareus, the king of Sparta. Because Leda lays with her husband on the same night she eventually gives birth to two sets of twins born from two different eggs. Castor and Clytemnestra are fathered by Tyndareus and Pollux and Helen are the children of Zeus. Leda, through this double seduction, becomes impregnated with two major heroines of the Trojan War, her seduction marking an important precursor for the events of both the Iliad and the Odyssey. Her boys Castor and Pollux eventually reside in the heavens as the immortal-mortal Gemini twins.

One of the most prominent French academic painters in the second half of the nineteenth century, Gerome was also among the foremost inventors of Orientalist themes. Inspired by the year he spent in Rome with Paul Delaroche in 1834-44, he developed an insatiable appetite for traveling and in 1855 made his first trip to Egypt. He became a meticulous recorder of the costume and customs of the near East and is probably best known for these Orientalist images especially his ones of nudes in Moorish or Turkish bath scenes. Gerome traveled widely in Turkey, Egypt and North Africa. A sculptor as well as a painter, his female figures have the same classical precision of Ingres, but are executed with a more pronounced sensuality and realism. During his career, Gerome achieved great popularity and he had considerable influence as a defender of academic tradition. Actively courted and patronized by collectors during his lifetime, the majority of Gerome's works were eventually gifted to major museums and very few reside in private hands.

PROVENANCE:  Bernheim Jeune & Fils, Inc.
Schnittjer (sold, Parke Bernet Galleries, Inc., NY., March 19, 1942, lot 360)
C.B. Squires (acquired at the above sale)
John Morrin, New York (sold, Parke Bernet Galleries, Inc., N.Y. , April 25, 1968, lot 264)
Wade Seacrest
Anonymous (sold, Parke Bernet, Los Angeles, November 13-14, 1972, lot 51, illustrated)
Forbes Magazine Collection, New York
Private collection
ONLINE CATALOGUE(S):  M.S. Rau Antiques Inventory Catalogue
LITERATURE:  Jean-Leon Gerome Paris Photographs, Gerome, Oeuvres, Cabinet des Etampes, Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris
Malcolm Preston, 'Pedulum Swings Back to an Era of Realism', Newsday, November 3, 1974
William Scale, Nineteenth Century, vol. III, no. 3, Autumn, 1977, Gilles Cugnier edition. Cover illustration
Oeuvres de J. L. Gerome (Bibliotheque National, Paris), XXIV, 6, Catalogue de Vesoul, 1981, p. 81
Margaret Kelly, Highlight from the Forbes Magazine Galleries, New York, 1985, p. 82 Gerald M. Ackerman, The Life and Work of Jean-Leon Gerome, with a Catalogue Raissone, London, 1986, pp. 276-77, no. 427. Illustrated. Also illustrated in color on p. 145
Jane Davidson Reid, The Oxford Guide to Classical Mythology in the Arts, 1800-1900s, New York 1993, vol. 2, p. 632
Gerald M. Ackerman Jean-Leon Gerome: Monographie revisee. Catalogue raissone mis a jour, Paris, 2000, p. 340, no. 427. Illustrated p. 341., no. 427
EXHIBITION HISTORY:  New York, The Emily Love Gallery, Hofstra University, New York, Art Pompier: Anti Impressionism, 1974, no. 48 Illustrated
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