Jean-Léon Gérôme was one of the most influential French artists of the 19th century, renowned for his Orientalist paintings. He initially studied with a drawing master in his hometown of Vesoul, before moving to Paris to study with the painter, Paul Delaroche, who became Gérôme’s most influential teacher, travelling with him to Italy in 1843-1844.
Gérôme’s career was defined by his extensive travelling. The encounters in Northern Africa and the Near East were especially influential in the development of his oeuvre and artistic language. Throughout his career, the exotic subjects of foreign cultures, their individual connotations with ancient history, as well as their unique architecture and fashions left an indelible mark on his mind. He developed a recognizable technique based on Orientalist themes within the Neo-Greco style. His debut at the Paris Salon caused a sensation with The Cockfight (1846), which won him a third-class medal and resulted in the painting being purchased by the State. It is now in the collection of the Museum d’Orsay.