More about The Artist and His Model

Sr. Contributor

Jean-Léon Gérôme liked to paint nude and semi-nude women in many different scenes and locations.

He painted these women in public baths, mythological scenes, climbing out of wells, even in A Roman Slave Market. Gerome also painted women working as models, specifically, modeling for him. That’s the case with The Artist and His Model, which Gerome painted in 1894, and is one of several paintings that featured him, his work, and his model posing.

In this work, the model is Emma Dupont, who was supposedly Gerome’s favorite model to work with. Like the starry-eyed hopeful actors of today who travel from all over the country to California and New York, hoping for a shot at stardom, 17 year old Emma came to Paris with a boyfriend, who apparently abandoned her. It’s not clear what Emma’s original plans were or where she was from originally, but she found herself alone and broke in a strange city. So, Emma became a model more out of survival than by choice.

Luckily for Emma, her new career was waiting for her at a café she had previously frequented with the ex-boyfriend; the owner of the café introduced her to Albert Stevens, who also liked to paint the ladies. However, when Emma refused to pose nude for him, he referred her to his colleague, Fernand Cormon, who managed to sweet-talk her into removing her clothes (probably by offering him more money). Corman told her that she would make a better figure model than a face model (not sure if that’s a compliment or not), so naturally the clothing needed to go. Once she got used to it, she realized the nude modeling agreed with her, and she found a bit of success working not only for Cormon, but Auguste Feyen-Perrin, Tony Faivre, and then on to Gerome.

Modeling for an artist is not an easy job; it may appear to be, but try holding that pose for hours on end! Emma excelled at this, and spent a lot of her time modeling for Gerome, and when she wasn’t busy with him, she worked for the other artists. Gerome liked her so much that he paid for her to travel with him and his family when they left the city for the summer. Even with that little bit of info, it’s not known if there was anything more than a business relationship between the two of them.

Gerome was not only an accomplished painter, he was a sculptor as well. The Artist and His Model celebrates the completion of his piece Tanagra, which is an homage to the ancient Greek figurines of that name. The painting includes some of his other works as well, such as the Bust of Selene, Pygmalion and Galatea, and Hoop Dancer (now damaged) which ended up being held in the outstretched hand of the finished Tanagra. Other works that Emma posed for include: Nude, The End of the Sitting, and the almost twin to The Artist and His Model, Working in Marble. In these paintings, Gerome was able to show off both his painting and sculptural skills in one place, with the added bonus of getting to work with his favorite model, who just also happens to be naked.