Aimé-Nicolas Morot, (French, 1850-1915)
Portrait of Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1904
Bronze, 12 x 7 x 8 3/4 inches
Aimé-Nicolas Morot, a pupil of Cabanel and son-in-law of Jean-Léon Gérôme, won the Prix de Rome in 1873, became a member of the Institut de France in 1898, and from 1900 until his death taught at the École des Beaux-Arts. He was a successful academic painter of portraits and battle scenes, but with the single notable exception of this piece, his work as a sculptor remains unknown.
Morot cast this bronze memorial portrait in 1904, the year of the older artist’s death, but Gérôme is depicted as a younger man. It is likely, therefore, that Morot conceived the portrait well before it was ultimately cast. The portrait is informal, harkening back to the work of sculptors like David d’Angers and Ludwig Tieck. Here the dapper Gérôme sits sideways in his chair, a relaxed yet commanding figure, with drawing portfolios next to him and a cat at his feet. The cat is identical to one that appears in Gérôme’s Mon Portrait of 1902 (now lost), another studio self-portrait showing the artist at work on a sculpture in front of a nude female model.