Jules Clément Chaplain (French, 1839–1909)
Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1885
Cast bronze, 3 15/16 in. diam.
Chaplain won the Prix de Rome for medal-engraving in 1863, and went on to have a highly successful career, including election to the Académie des Beaux-Arts in 1881 and an appointment as Art Director of the Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory in 1896. In 1877 Chaplain became the official medallist of the French government, creating a series of presidential portrait medals. His many animated and realistic medallions of intellectuals and artists, however, constitute his greatest achievement.
Obverse: Portrait in profile of the painter and sculptor Jean-Léon Gérôme at age 60. Inscribed, signed, and dated: JEAN LEON GEROME PEINTRE. ETATIS SVAE LX / MDCCCLXXXV / J.C.CHAPLAIN.
Reverse: A female personification of painting is seated at an easel, holding a brush to a canvas. She is surrounded by elements that refer to Gérôme’s Orientalist subjects, such as the Sphinx at left and the mosque at right, as well as a gladiator helmet referring to his classical paintings. As Gérôme’s painting Working in Marble demonstrates, the artist is known to have had such a prop in his studio.