Hi, Jean-Léon Gérôme, Could you tell us a bit about your background and what led you to pursue painting?

Born in 1824 in Vesoul, France, I developed an interest in art at a young age. My studies at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris under Paul Delaroche greatly influenced my approach to painting and sculpture. My passion for classical themes, historical accuracy, and Orientalism guided my career, leading me to become one of the most celebrated academic painters of my time.

How would you describe your approach to art and the development of your style?

My approach to art is rooted in the Academic tradition, emphasizing meticulous technique and detail, along with a deep respect for historical and classical subject matter. I have always strived for precision and clarity in my work, whether painting scenes from ancient history, exotic Eastern locales, or dramatic mythological events. Over time, my style became characterized by a blend of realism and romanticism, bringing to life scenes that are both accurate and evocative. This approach has remained consistent throughout my career, despite the rise of new artistic movements like Impressionism, which I viewed with skepticism.

What inspires you to choose the subjects that you do?

I am inspired by a range of subjects, from ancient history and mythology to the exotic allure of the East. My travels to Egypt and Turkey had a profound impact on my work, inspiring many of my Orientalist paintings. I strive to bring these diverse worlds to life with authenticity and a sense of immediacy, often incorporating intricate details to transport the viewer to another time and place.

Could you elaborate on how you approach color in your work?

In my paintings, color is used to create a sense of realism and depth. I prefer a palette that is both rich and nuanced, allowing me to accurately depict the textures and tones of different settings and materials. My use of color is often carefully controlled to enhance the narrative and emotional impact of the scene.

Lastly, what advice would you give to aspiring artists who look up to your work?

To aspiring artists, I would advise a rigorous study of the fundamentals of art – drawing, anatomy, perspective, and history. A strong foundation in these areas is essential for any artist. Additionally, I encourage artists to pursue their subjects with a dedication to accuracy and detail. Art, in my view, is not just about expression but also about discipline and the pursuit of perfection.