OIL PAINTING: Pelt Merchant of Cairo, 1869
Gerome first established himself as a leading neo-classicist painter. In 1855, however, Gerome traveled to Turkey to make studies for a large, official commission. Gerome became fascinated with the life and culture of the East and made many more subsequent journeys to Egypt (1857 to 1880), Turkey, Algiers and elsewhere. His paintings of these areas were shown extensively in France, Italy and Germany and gained for him membership into the Imperial Institute (1865), Knighthood in the Legion of Honour (1867), honourary membership to the British Royal Academy (1869) and the award of the Red Eagle, from the King of Prussia.
Jean-Leon Gerome was at the centre of the movement now known as 'Orientalism'. Briefly, Orientalist artists dedicated their paintings to the more exotic elements of Eastern culture and life. Before the era of Impressionism it was a most influential force throughout Europe and its presentation of rich colouration and exotic subjects affected even some abstract artists of the twentieth century.