Thursday, July 15, 2010

Gerome and color reproductions

Well, let's get started on this new blog. I was just catching up at my favorite art blog, GurneyJourney, and saw the announcement and critique of a show at the Getty Museum of the work of Jean Leon Gerome. Gerome has long been an artist I have admired for his epic scenes and dramatic (even cinematic) lighting. But my favorite image of his has always been Pygmalion and Galatea, an image that captured my imagination, even from a young age, of artwork coming alive!It wasn't until 2007 that I first got to see the original at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. Seeing the original work surprised me in two ways:

One: It was a lot smaller than I expected. Surrounded as it was by so many large and grand pieces it was easy to miss.

Two: The colors looked nothing like what I had seen in the various books. I had looked at quite a number of reproductions in books and they usually differed from one another (that's to be expected) - but the original was SO different! It was amazing to see the original work!

In James Gurney's blog he links to a site,, which apparently has images of all of Gerome's works. I was mortified to see the classic bad reproduction representing the Pygmalion piece on the site. So, for anyone who is interested, here you can see the original (on the left) and the bad, but all too common, version on the right.

Quite a difference, eh?

During my visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I asked and got permission to bring a tripod around and photograph various pieces around the museum. I carefully set my white balance and exposure to take the best images possible. I could also take closeups of certain areas for study at home.

Many museums will allow you to do this so ask ahead of time. Some have a policy of absolutely no photography and seem scandalized when I ask. Others are delighted that I care so much for these pieces and want to study them. So the take home message is - don't be afraid to ask (calling ahead is best) and you may have a real treasure of quality images to enjoy and learn from in the comfort of your home.

If anyone is interested, here is a link you can click on to get the full-sized file of the Pygmalion piece. If anyone is interested in my closeup shots just drop me a line.


  1. Close ups would be nice indeed, that piece is great

  2. Great post!
    I've noticed the same with some online reproductions. Is a pitty, realy.

    The other day I visited for the first time the Met, and I pass hard time to take the pics without tripod... is a good idea! I was amazed by one painting of Bargue. The online reproductions of this painting (the only one of Bargue at the met I think, I don't remember his name) are so bad!

    And I love to see close ups!
    If you don't mind, here is my email


  3. Thank Ariel. I'll send them over to you. Do you remember which Bargue painting you saw? I photographed quite a number of pieces and if I have that one I can send it along too.

    Felipe, just drop me an email: and I'll send the close-ups to you too.

  4. Uh, sorry, I didn't realize you answer me.
    I saw this painting:

    His name, I think, is "A Bashi-Bazouk"

    My photographs skills are very limited... :)

  5. Hey Ariel,

    I checked out your link and that is a great piece. Unfortunately that is not one I have. Sorry.