Sunday, August 9, 2015
"'The Delicate Grace' at PAM

Jean-Léon Gérôme, French, 1824-1904
Tanagra, after 1890
Gilded bronze
Museum purchase with funds provided by COMPAS
Phoenix Art Museum #1986.54

Hoop Dancer, 1891
Gilded bronze
Museum purchase
Phoenix Art Museum #2000.12

"Jean-Léon Gérôme (11 May 1824 – 10 January 1904) was a French painter and sculptor in the style now known as Academicism. The range of his oeuvre included historical painting, Greek mythology, Orientalism, portraits and other subjects, bringing the Academic painting tradition to an artistic climax. He is considered one of the most important painters from this academic period, and in addition to being a painter, he was also a teacher with a long list of students." (Source: Wikipedia)

Why did he name this beautiful, graceful lady "Tanagra"? "The Tanagra figurines were a mold-cast type of Greek terracotta figurines produced from the later fourth century BCE, primarily in the Boeotian town of Tanagra." "Tanagra figures depict real women — and some men and boys — in everyday costume, with familiar accessories like hats, wreaths or fans. Some character pieces[1] may have represented stock figures from the New Comedy of Menander and other writers."

"Tanagra figures had not been much noted before the end of the 1860s, when ploughmen of Vratsi in Boeotia, Greece, began to uncover tombs ranging in date over many centuries. The main finds especially from the 4th and 3rd centuries BCE were secured in 1874." (Source: Wikipedia)

As Gérôme was interested in Greek mythology, he would have kept up on the latest archeological finds, and find among them inspiration for the creation of his own art. The Musée d'Orsay has a marble version of this piece, Wiki has a photo from 1890 of it:

"H. 154.7; W. 10.5; D. 6 cm"

Interesting enough, Gérôme also did a self-portrait, Working in Marble, or The Artist Sculpting Tanagra, 1890

Jean-Léon Gérôme (French, 1824–1904)
Working in Marble, or The Artist Sculpting Tanagra, 1890
Oil on canvas, 19 7/8 x 15 1/2 in.
Signed and dated lower left, on portfolio: J. L. Gerome / 1890
Dahesh Museum of Art, New York, #1995.104

The ancient statuettes that inspired so much art during the late 19th century were described by one French critic as "the parisienne of the ancient world".[3] Oscar Wilde, in his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891), has Dorian liken his love, Sybil, to "the delicate grace of the Tanagra figurine that you have in your Studio, Basil." (Source: Wikipedia)

And likely Gérôme inspired Wilde's character the artist Basil Hallward. Art inspires art which then goes on to inspire more art.

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