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File:Jean-Léon Gérôme - The Christian Martyrs' Last Prayer - Walters 37113.jpg


Title The Christian Martyrs' Last Prayer
English: William T. Walters commissioned this painting in 1863, but the artist did not deliver it until 20 years later. In a letter to Walters, Gérôme identified the setting as ancient Rome's racecourse, the Circus Maximus. He noted such details as the goal posts and the chariot tracks in the dirt. The seating, however, more closely resembles that of the Colosseum, Rome's amphitheater, in which gladiatorial combats and other spectacles were held. Similarly, the hill in the background surmounted by a colossal statue and a temple is nearer in appearance to the Athenian Acropolis than it is to Rome's Palatine Hill. The artist also commented on the religious fortitude of the victims who were about to suffer martyrdom either by being devoured by the wild beasts or by being smeared with pitch and set ablaze, which also never took place in the Circus Maximus. In this instance, Gérôme, whose paintings were usually admired for their sense of reality, has subordinated historical accuracy to drama. W. M. Brady & Co, New York, in "Drawings and Oil Sketches 1700-1900," 27 January 2009 - 12 February 2009, No. 21, offers "Study for the 'Death of Caesar," an oil on canvas with pen and ink underdrawing, measuring 19.5 × 33 cm (7.7 × 13 in), which formerly belonged to Maurice Aiccardi, Paris. This sketch may be the one that Theophile Gautier alluded to during a visit to the artist's studio in 1858 (G. Ackerman, Jean-Leon Gerome: Monographie revisee 2000, pp. 240-241).
Date between 1863 and 1883
Medium oil on canvas
Dimensions Height: 87.9 cm (34.6 in). Width: 150.1 cm (59.1 in). ; with frame: Height: 139.7 cm (55 in). Width: 202.25 cm (79.6 in). Depth: 17.15 cm (6.8 in).
Accession number 37.113
Exhibition history J. L. Gerome. Dayton Art Institute, Dayton; Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis; The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1972-1973. Romans and Barbarians. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Boston. 1976-1977. A Baltimorean in Paris: George A. Lucas, 1860-1909. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1979. Nineteenth Century French Salon Paintings from Southern Collections. High Museum of Art, Atlanta; Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk; The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota; North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh. 1983. Vive la France! French Treasures from the Middle Ages to Monet. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1999-2000. A Magnificent Age: Masterpieces from the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City; Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte; The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. 2002-2004. The Spectacular Art of Jean-Léon Gérôme. Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid; J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; Musee D'Orsay, Paris. 2010-2011.
Credit line Acquired by William T. Walters, 1883
Inscriptions Signature left: J. L. Gérôme
Ownership history
  • 1863: commissioned by William T. Walters, Baltimore
    [and received in 1883 from the artist]
  • 1894: inherited by Henry Walters, Baltimore
  • 1931: bequeathed to Walters Art Museum by Henry Walters
place of origin France
Source/Photographer Walters Art Museum: Nuvola filesystems folder home.svg Home page  Information icon.svg Info about artwork
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