Tiger on the Watch is an 1888 animal oil on canvas painting in the Academic style by French artist and sculptor Jean-Léon Gérôme.
Jean-Léon Gérôme, a prominent French painter and sculptor of the 19th century, is known for his extensive body of work that includes various themes and subjects. Among his many subjects, Gérôme depicted scenes and landscapes from Africa, showcasing his fascination with the exotic and the Orientalist tendencies prevalent during that period.
Gérôme traveled to North Africa multiple times during his career, including visits to Algeria and Egypt. His firsthand experiences in these regions allowed him to capture the essence of African culture, architecture, and daily life in his paintings. Gérôme’s depictions often displayed meticulous attention to detail, vibrant colors, and a blend of realism and academic precision.
One of Gérôme’s most famous paintings set in Africa is The Slave Market (1866). This artwork portrays a bustling scene at a slave market, depicting the sale of enslaved individuals in a North African city. Gérôme’s masterful composition and skillful rendering highlight the visual impact of the scene while also raising questions about the ethics and human consequences of the slave trade.
Another notable painting by Gérôme set in Egypt is The Snake Charmer (1870). This work captures a snake charmer in an oriental setting, surrounded by spectators. The painting showcases Gérôme’s ability to depict intricate details, such as the patterns on the carpet and the expressions on the faces of the onlookers, while capturing the exotic allure of the scene.
Gérôme’s interest in the African continent extended beyond these specific works. Throughout his career, he produced numerous paintings and sculptures that incorporated African themes or characters. Some of these artworks depicted historical and mythological subjects, while others captured everyday life in African villages or cities.
It is important to note that Gérôme’s depictions of Africa and its people were influenced by the Orientalist perspective prevalent during the 19th century. Orientalism often portrayed non-Western cultures as exotic, mysterious, and “other.” While Gérôme’s artworks can be admired for their technical prowess, it is essential to approach them with an understanding of the historical context and the biases that may be present.