Gérôme painted this scene, which depicts the interior of the seventh-century mosque of ‘Amr in Cairo, after his visit to Egypt in 1868. 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 a service at this particular mosque, which had fallen into disuse by 1868. Rather, the image is probably a composite of sketches and photographs of various sites. Gérôme traveled widely in the Middle East; more than two-thirds of his paintings are devoted to Orientalist subjects.
Inscription: Signed (upper right, on beam): J.L. GEROME
[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]; [Knoedler, New York, 1874; sold on November 13, for $10,670, to Wolfe]; Catharine Lorillard Wolfe, New York (1874–d. 1887)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Taste of the Seventies," April 2–September 10, 1946, no. 109 (as "Figures in a Mosque").
London. Royal Academy of Arts. "The Orientalists: Delacroix to Matisse: European Painters in North Africa and the Near East," March 24–May 27, 1984, no. 32 (as "Prayer in the Mosque of 'Amr").
Washington. National Gallery of Art. "The Orientalists: Delacroix to Matisse: European Painters in North Africa and the Near East," July 1–October 28, 1984, no. 32.
St. Petersburg, Fla. Museum of Fine Arts. "The Lure of Egypt: Land of the Pharaohs Revisited," January 10–June 9, 1996, no. 19 (as "Prayer in the Mosque").
Bordeaux. Musée Goupil. "Gérôme & Goupil: Art et Entreprise," October 12, 2000–January 14, 2001, no. 72 (as "La Prière publique dans une mosquée").
New York. Dahesh Museum of Art. "Gérôme & Goupil: Art and Enterprise," February 6–May 5, 2001, no. 72 (as "Prayer in the Mosque of Amr, Cairo [La prière publique dans une mosquée]").
Pittsburgh. Frick Art & Historical Center. "Gérôme & Goupil: Art and Enterprise," June 7–August 12, 2001, no. 72.
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. "The Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800–1920," February 4–May 6, 2007, no. 38.
Berlin. Neue Nationalgalerie. "Französische Meisterwerke des 19. Jahrhunderts aus dem Metropolitan Museum of Art," June 1–October 7, 2007, unnumbered cat.
Los Angeles. J. Paul Getty Museum. "The Spectacular Art of Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824–1904)," June 15–September 12, 2010, no. 146 (as "Public Prayer in the Mosque of Amr").
Paris. Musée d'Orsay. "Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824–1904). L'Histoire en spectacle," October 19, 2010–January 23, 2011, no. 146.
Madrid. Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. "Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824–1904)," February 15–May 22, 2011, no. 22.
Edward Strahan [Earl Shinn], ed. The Art Treasures of America. Philadelphia, , vol. 1, pp. 126–27, 134, calls it "In the Mosque of Amrou" in the text and "Sheik at Devotions, Ancient Mosque in Cairo" in the list of works in Miss Wolfe's collection.
Cicerone. "Private Galleries: Collection of Miss Catharine L. Wolfe." Art Amateur 2 (March 1880), p. 76, as "Mosque of Amrou".
Edward Strahan [Earl Shinn], ed. Gérôme: A Collection of the Works of Gérôme in One Hundred Photogravures. New York, 1881, vol. 2, unpaginated, ill., calls it "Public Prayer in the Mosque of Amron [sic]," the property of Miss C. L. Wolfe of New York; remarks that this building, the Islamic Mosque of Amrou, at Cairo, dates from the seventh century, and describes details of the interior as well as the positions of the prayer ritual.
"The Fine Arts: Recent Gifts to the Metropolitan Museum." Critic (April 16, 1887), p. 194.
M[ariana]. G[riswold]. van Rensselaer. "Pictures of the Season in New York. III." American Architect and Building News 21 (April 23, 1887), p. 195.
Montezuma [Montague Marks]. "My Note Book." Art Amateur 16 (May 1887), p. 122, as "A Sheik at Devotions".
"Gallery and Studio: The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Art Amateur 18 (December 1887), p. 7, as "Prayer in a Mosque, Old Cairo".
C. H. Stranahan. A History of French Painting from its Earliest to its Latest Practice. New York, 1888, p. 319, calls it "Sheik at Devotion".
Walter Rowlands. "The Miss Wolfe Collection." Art Journal, n.s., (January 1889), p. 14.
"J. L. Gérôme in American Collections." The Collector 1 (September 1, 1890), p. 150, as "Prayer at a Mosque, Old Cairo".
Fanny Field Hering. Gérôme: The Life and Works of Jean Léon Gérôme. New York, 1892, p. 126, calls it "Public Prayer in the Mosque at Amrou," the most perfect of all the paintings of mosque interiors.
John Denison Champlin Jr. and Charles C. Perkins, ed. Cyclopedia of Painters and Paintings. New York, 1892, vol. 2, p. 129, as "Abyssinian Chief, Sheik at Devotions — Ancient Mosque in Cairo".
"The Metropolitan Museum of Art—The French Painters." New York Times (May 22, 1895), p. 4, as "Prayer in the Mosque: Old Cairo".
Arthur Hoeber. The Treasures of The Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York. New York, 1899, pp. 80–81, praises the finish and attention to detail.
Gustave Haller. Nos grands peintres: Catalogue de leurs œuvres et opinions de la presse. Paris, 1899, p. 101, calls it "Prière à la mosquée d'Amron" in a list of paintings that have not been exhibited.
Frank Fowler. "The Field of Art: Modern Foreign Paintings at the Metropolitan Museum, Some Examples of the French School." Scribner's Magazine 44 (September 1908), pp. 381–83, ill.
R. H. Ives Gammell. Twilight of Painting: An Analysis of Recent Trends to Serve in a Period of Reconstruction. New York, 1946, unpaginated, pl. 23.
Josephine L. Allen and Elizabeth E. Gardner. A Concise Catalogue of the European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1954, p. 41.
Charles Sterling and Margaretta M. Salinger. French Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 2, XIX Century. New York, 1966, p. 171, ill., call it "Prayer in the Mosque" and note that the mosque of 'Amr was the first to be built in Egypt and is still standing in the eastern part of old Cairo; note that the style is characteristic of Gérôme's first period.
Gerald M. Ackerman. "Gérôme's 'A Chat by the Fireside'." The Register of the Museum of Art 4 (March 1971), pp. 21, 25–26, ill., cites it as an example of Gérôme's small ethnographic works of Turks or Egyptians in their natural surroundings; suggests that the artist may have hired a professional perspectivist for the background.
Richard Ettinghausen inJean-Léon Gérôme, 1824–1904. Exh. cat., Dayton Art Institute. 1972, pp. 22–23, fig. 12, calls it "Communal Prayer in the Amr Mosque" in Cairo and praises it as a depiction of Arab hypostyle architecture with a prayer niche; comments on the social and ethnic aspects of the persons at worship; comments on the historical significance of this image of the mosque since its interior has changed.
John Rewald. "Should Hoving Be De-accessioned?" Art in America 61 (January–February 1973), p. 28.
Donald A. Rosenthal. Orientalism: The Near East in French Painting 1800–1880. Exh. cat., Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester. Rochester, N.Y., 1982, p. 78, discusses it with "Interior of a Mosque" (A514, Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester) as examples of Gérôme's attention to the details of architecture and decoration.
Albert Boime. "Gérôme and the Bourgeois Artist's Burden." Arts magazine 57 (January 1983), p. 73.
Mary Anne Stevens inThe Orientalists: Delacroix to Matisse, the Allure of North Africa and the Near East. Ed. Mary Anne Stevens. Exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts, London. New York, 1984, pp. 65, 144, no. 34, ill. (color and black and white) [British ed., "The Orientalists: Delacroix to Matisse, European Painters in North Africa and the Near East," London, 1984, pp. 65, 142, no. 32, ill. (color and black and white)], calls it "Prayer in the Mosque of 'Amr (Prière à la mosquée d'Amron)" and dates it about 1872.
Malcolm Warner inThe Orientalists: Delacroix to Matisse, the Allure of North Africa and the Near East. Ed. Mary Anne Stevens. Exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts, London. New York, 1984, pp. 35–36, fig. 13 [British edition, "The Orientalists: Delacroix to Matisse, European Painters in North Africa and the Near East," London, 1984, same pagination].
Gerald M. Ackerman. The Life and Work of Jean-Léon Gérôme, with a catalogue raisonné. London, 1986, pp. 93, 228, no. 200, ill. (color and black and white), calls it "Public Prayer in the Mosque of Amr (La prière publique dans une mosquée)" and dates it 1870; considers it the "first and greatest of Gérôme's mosque interiors"; identifies the almost naked man as a Santon or moslem holy man, a begging hermit.
Gerald M. Ackerman. "Gérôme's Oriental Paintings and the Western Genre Tradition." Arts Magazine 60 (March 1986), pp. 76–77, fig. 7, dates it 1870.
François Pouillon. "L'Ombre de l'islam: Les figurations de la pratique religieuse dans la peinture orientaliste du 19e siècle." Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales no. 75 (November 1988), p. 30, fig. 9, dates it 1870.
Christine Peltre. L'atelier du voyage: Les peintres en Orient au XIXe siècle. Paris, 1995, p. 61.
Katharine Baetjer. European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Artists Born Before 1865: A Summary Catalogue. New York, 1995, p. 436, ill.
Jennifer Hardin. The Lure of Egypt: Land of the Pharaohs Revisited. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, Fla. St. Petersburg, Fla., , pp. 8, 22, no. 19, ill. (color).
Caroline Williams. "Jean-Léon Gérôme: A Case Study of an Orientalist Painter." Fantasy or Ethnography? Irony and Collusion in Subaltern Representation. Ed. Sabra J. Webber, and Margaret R. Lynd, with Kristin A. Peterson. Columbus, 1996, p. 137, identifies the floor depicted in The Met's picture as the same one Gérôme painted in "The Snake Charmer" (ca. 1879, Clark Art Institute, Williamstown).
Rebecca A. Rabinow. "Catharine Lorillard Wolfe: The First Woman Benefactor of the Metropolitan Museum." Apollo 147 (March 1998), p. 54 n. 18, states that Goupil imported this picture from Paris on Wolfe's behalf and that she purchased it for $10,670 on November 13, 1874.
Gerald M. Ackerman. Jean-Léon Gérôme: Monographie révisée, catalogue raisonné mis à jour. 2nd rev. ed. [1st ed., 1986]. Paris, 2000, p. 105, 274, no. 200, ill. (color), dates it 1871; states that it was purchased by Knoedler from Goupil in 1871 for Fr 22,000.
Stephen R. Edidin inGérôme & Goupil: Art and Enterprise. Exh. cat., Musée Goupil, Bordeaux. Paris, 2000, pp. 120–21, 161, no. 72, ill. (color and photogravure), dates it 1871; identifies it as Goupil stock no. 5695, sold to Knoedler in 1871, from Knoedler back to Goupil in 1872, and from Goupil to Wallis [see Ref. Sotheby's 2008].
Petra ten-Doesschate Chu. Nineteenth-Century European Art. 2nd ed. Upper Saddle River, N.J., 2006, p. 281, fig. 12-14 (color), dates it about 1872.
Kathryn Calley Galitz inThe Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800–1920. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. New York, 2007, pp. 60–61, 216–17, no. 38, ill. (overall and detail, color and black and white).
Kathryn Calley Galitz inMasterpieces of European Painting, 1800–1920, in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, pp. 70, 253–54, no. 64, ill. (color and black and white).
19th Century European Art, Including the Orientalist Sale. Sotheby's, New York. April 18, 2008, pp. 332, 335, under no. 193, fig. 2 (color), states that the provenance of this picture has been confused with that of "Rüstem Pasha Mosque, Istanbul" (lot no. 193) [see Ref. Edidin 2000].
Scott C. Allan inThe Spectacular Art of Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824–1904). Ed. Laurence des Cars, Dominique de Font-Réaulx, and Edouard Papet. Exh. cat., J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. Paris, 2010, pp. 246–47, no. 146, ill. (color), dates it 1871 (possibly 1874); includes the early provenance for "Rüstem Pasha Mosque, Istanbul" [see Ref. Sotheby's 2008] as possibly pertaining to this picture; notes that the central figure's costume is identical to the one worn by Marcus Botsaris in Gérôme's fictive portrait of the Greek Orthodox Albanian (1874; Terence and Katrina Garnett collection, San Mateo, Calif.; A239).
Sophie Makariou and Charlotte Maury inThe Spectacular Art of Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824–1904). Ed. Laurence des Cars, Dominique de Font-Réaulx, and Edouard Papet. Exh. cat., J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. Paris, 2010, pp. 260, 262.
Mary G. Morton inThe Spectacular Art of Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824–1904). Ed. Laurence des Cars, Dominique de Font-Réaulx, and Edouard Papet. Exh. cat., J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. Paris, 2010, p. 280.
Philippe Mariot inThe Spectacular Art of Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824–1904). Ed. Laurence des Cars, Dominique de Font-Réaulx, and Edouard Papet. Exh. cat., J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. Paris, 2010, p. 345.
Sarah Lees inNineteenth-Century European Paintings at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Ed. Sarah Lees. Williamstown, Mass., 2012, vol. 1, pp. 368, 371 nn. 7, 8, under no. 154.
European Art Part I. Christie's, New York. October 28, 2019, under no. 216 [https://www.christies.com/en/lot/lot-6229355], states that the same model used for the central figure appears in the same red costume in Gérôme's "Markos Botsaris" (1874, private collection), though evidence of the models' resemblance is scant.
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