The Age of Augustus, The Birth of Christ: Jean-Léon Gérôme

Jean-Léon Gérôme: The Age of Augustus, The Birth of Christ

In The Age of Augustus, The Birth of Christ, a vast and hugely populated history painting he finished in 1854, Jean-Léon Gérôme portrayed a triumph of Augustus the first Roman emperor crowned in a laurel wreath on high in the centre background.

This ostentatious show of power is counterpointed with the humble scene of the nativity of Christ directly below in the foreground as Mary and Joseph pay tribute to the infant Jesus. Surrounded by moments of the cruelty and fervour that underlie Roman glory, the Christian scene is a model of quiet devotion and a lack of concern with worldly materialism.

Jean-Léon Gérôme: The Age of Augustus, The Birth of Christ is in the Getty Museum in Los Angeles

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