Sunday, December 13, 2020

Gerome: Truth and the Well

Jean Leon Gérôme (French 1824-1904) produced several paintings of Truth as a nude woman holding a whip as she emerges from a well. The idea is based on an aphorism by Democritus: "We know nothing of reality, for Truth is hidden in a well." 

Gérôme was thinking of photography in connection with this idea. The camera offered immediate access to a source of truth that was not previously available. It seemed to transcend subjectivity and it gave artists a valuable tool.

Gérôme was positive and progressive in his views on photography. 

He said: “Photography is an art. It forces artists to discard their old routine and forget their old formulas. It has opened our eyes and forced us to see that which previously we have not seen; a great and inexpressible service for Art. It is thanks to photography that Truth has finally come out of her well. She will never go back.”

Wikipedia on Truth and the Well
The Life and Work of Jean-Leon Gerome (Sotheby's English)

1 comment:

Dariuszkieliszek said...

Intersting. I remember when I went to a Jozef Brandt exhibition back in Poland that had most of his paintings and sketchbooks, and one room was dedicated to his photo references that he shoot for his paintings. It was eye opening.