Title: Almeh Performing the Sword Dance (or, Sword Dancer)
Oil on canvas
Dimensions: Image: 22 3/4 x 31 inches (57.8 x 78.7 cm)
Acquired through the Membership Purchase Fund
A brilliant draftsman and meticulous painter, Gérôme was a leading exponent of the academic tradition; he was widely praised for his highly finished, carefully modeled paintings and was the teacher of many artists, including the American realist Thomas Eakins. Gérôme's scenes of life in the Near East were well received by an audience that had a taste for exotic subject matter. Between 1854 and 1872, Gérôme traveled extensively throughout the Near East, North Africa, Spain, and Portugal. Gérôme is sensitive not only to his human subjects, but also to their often exotic context, accurately depicting the architecture and decoration of the setting. Among his many canvases depicting women in semi-erotic situations, such as the slave market or the bath, are several paintings of the almeh, or belly dancer. According to a contemporary, Gérôme watched a dancer at a cafe and invited her to his studio where he sketched and photographed her and then purchased her dancing costume to take back to France. This painting was done in his studio by combining sketches, props, costumes, and memory. (From “A Handbook of the Collection: Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art," 1998)
NOTE: This electronic record is compiled from historic documentation which may not reflect the Johnson Museum's complete or current knowledge of the object. Review and refinement of such records is ongoing.