A most interesting image, as I hope you will agree. It is, I understand, an 1886 photogravure print of a painting entitled 'Oedipus' (or is it possibly 'Bonaparte Before the Sphinx c. 1867') by French painter and sculptor Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824-1904). You would probably have recognised, without my telling you, the figure of Napoleon, on horseback & contemplating the Sphinx in Egypt.
Now I saw the print on which this page is based, 7 1/2" x 12 1/4" in size (image size only), for sale on e-Bay by 'martin2001' of Virginia. (it sold for U.S.$13.79 on Dec. 31, 2001). Jim Martin has an amazing number of antique engravings for sale through his e-Bay store, 26 pages of them as I write. And a page of definitions appropriate to his subject including one which explains exactly what a photogravure print is, should you wish to know. A great many of Gérôme's original works were sold to rich Americans while the less affluent could buy prints of his works published around the world in large quantity by Adolphe Goupil, Gérôme's dealer, publicist, publisher & father-in-law.
A similar print, for sale on e-Bay in Mar. 2003, stated that their print is from an 1897 collection of prints illustrating art works exhibited at the World's Columbian Exposition, the world's fair in Chicago in 1893.
In many an earlier page, I have stated that to me at least, the premier WWW art site is Carol Gerten's Fine Art (CGFA), the work of Carol Gerten-Jackson. This image does not appear on her site & another site where I found it before has now vanished from the scene. The original may be in the Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument in California, but I am not really sure. Carol Gerten-Jackson does have some magnificent Gérôme images on her site. Look here and here, both links to her Danish mirror site, for a couple of stunning examples. Such images, a little erotic perhaps, beautifully executed, dramatically posed, romantic & oriental in style, were in high demand in Gérôme's time. And indeed still are today ~ see below. Click here for biographical information about the artist. Artcyclopedia has many links to galleries & sites that feature Gérôme's work. You would particularly enjoy, I know, a visit to the Art Renewal Centre site for many pages of images by Jean-Léon Gérôme.
There is, of course, no water in Gérôme's painting & none close to the Sphinx today. But the 'Lake applet' image is not really so far fetched. In ancient times, & even in quite recent times too, the waters of the Nile in flood reached very close to the Sphinx. Ramps or causeways used to lead from the waters edge to the nearly Great pyramids. And I understand that the erosion on the rocks that form the base of the now exposed Sphinx, (it was mostly buried in the sand for centuries) are consistent with running water & lots of it. Interesting, isn't it!
I like to list some current values but am having difficulty these days in locating data. This Gérôme painting 'Femme Nue', an oil on canvas 12.8 x 16.1 in. in size, sold for U.S. $435,000 at Christie's in New York on Oct. 18, 2000. I found a reference to a Gérôme oil painting of the Western Wall in Jerusalem being offered at Sotheby's in New York on Dec. 10, 2001. The sale price estimate was U.S. $1.5/$2 million. It would seem not to have sold, however, and I have so far not been able to find an image of the work. (But now see here!) A Gérôme work entitled 'After the Bath' & painted c. 1881, (image not available), was sold for U.S. $1,047,500 (incl. Buyer's Premium) by Sotheby's on Nov. 2, 1999. If anyone can help me add additional value data, please do drop me a line.
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