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Prayer in the Mosque

Jean-Léon Gérôme  (French, Vésoul 1824–1904 Paris)

Jean-Léon Gérôme (French, Vésoul 1824–1904 Paris)

Date: 1871

Medium:Oil on canvas

Dimensions:35 x 29 1/2 in. (88.9 x 74.9 cm)

Credit Line:Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Collection, Bequest of Catharine Lorillard Wolfe, 1887

Orientalist images represent more than two-thirds of Gérôme’s painted oeuvre and are based on his travels in the Near East, especially North Africa. Paul-Marie Lenoir, Gérôme’s student and one of his traveling companions, recorded a description of their 1868 visit to the Egyptian mosque of ‘Amr in Cairo, founded in A.D. 640, whose interior Gérôme depicted in this painting. The rows of worshipers, ranging from the dignitary and his attendants to the loincloth-clad Muslim holy man, face Mecca during one of the five daily prayers. It is unlikely, however, that Gérôme witnessed such a scene at this particular mosque, which, by 1868, had fallen into disuse. Rather, the image is probably a composite of sketches as well as photographs of various sites.

[Goupil & Cie, Paris, 1874; stock no. 9275, purchased on September 23 for Fr 20,000; sold on November 5, for Fr 40,000, to Knoedler]; [M. Knoedler, New York, 1874; sold on November 13, for $10,670, to Wolfe]; Catharine Lorillard Wolfe, New York (1874–d. 1887; her bequest to MMA)



About the Author
The Metropolitan Museum of Art was founded on April 13, 1870, in the City of New York. The Museum's collection of Islamic art ranges in date from the seventh to the nineteenth century. Its nearly twelve thousand objects reflect the great diversity and range of the cultural traditions of Islam, with works from as far westward as Spain and Morocco and as far eastward as Central Asia and India. Comprising sacred and secular objects, the collection reveals the mutual influence of artistic practices such as calligraphy, and the exchange of motifs such as vegetal ornament (the arabesque) and geometric patterning in both realms.
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