Pool in a Harem: Jean-Léon Gérôme

Pool in a Harem- Jean-Léon Gérôme

Pool in a Harem is an 1876 realist painting by French academic artist Jean-Léon Gérôme.

Gérôme, it has been noted, was perhaps the most famous artist in the world in the 1880s. He was an Academic painter with a special interest in antiquity and Oriental subjects.

This work portrays the languid atmosphere of a harem of the Near East or perhaps North Africa. The harem, and oriental scenes generally, were at the time seen as mysterious and exotic in the West.

Here, there is a scene of several races of people interacting on seemingly equal terms as a black-robed man presents the two foreground women with smoking pipes. The reclining woman on the right adopts the pose of the ‘odalisque’ or the conventional western manner of painting the nude, especially in a foreign setting.

Jean-Léon Gérôme’s Pool in a Harem is in the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

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