The Death of Caesar Jean-Leon Gerome Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Painted in 1867 by the French artist Jean-Leon Gerome, The Death of Caesar is an oil on canvas drawing with a size of 215.9 x 368.3 cm. The drawing is a history painting depicting famous people like Julius Caesar and Marcus Junius Brutus at the theatre of Pompey in Rome.

In the image, Gerome depicts the immediate aftermath after Julius Caesar was assassinated in Rome on March 15 44BC. The artwork captures the scene with a smooth and polished technique showing the reactions of happy conspirators walking away from the body of Caesar that lies on the floor and is covered with a white sheet. The throne seat is overturned, and the killers are exiting the room raising their weapons to celebrate the victory. Brutus is the last in the crowd but and he is not raising his weapon high like the others. The actions of Brutus signifies that he dealt the final blow before joining the others.

Current Location

The painting is currently kept at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland but was also previously owned by individuals. The first person to hold the painting was M.j Allard and was later owned by John Taylor Johnson who sold it in 1876. Other owners were John Jacob Astor, Boussod Veladon et Cie and James B. Haggin et al. Henry Walters of Baltimore purchased it in 1917 and bequeathed it to Walters Art Museum in 1931.

Gerome and Academism

Most of Gerome's paintings had great attention to picture and details and depicted historical scenes. Gerome brought a transformation in historical painting but faced a lot of criticism from Realists and Expressionists, who considered his art orientation untrue and a perversion of the truth. He also received disapprovals because his paintings seemed to fall between academic painting and genre painting. Gerome did not concentrate on the historical accuracy of his paintings, but his work was captivating due to the skills displayed in his work.

People Gerome Inspired and Those who inspired Him

Gerome learnt art with the help of Paul Delaroche, who was a friend to his father. The had a linear style of painting similar to that of Jean auguste-Dominique Ingres and made highly finished painting surfaces like Delaroche. Gerome also had a significant influence on the Paris art world and had a considerable number of pupils. Some of the successful artists among his pupils include J. Alden Weir, Thomas Eakins and Odilon Redon.