Jean Léon Gérôme (French, 1824–1904),
The Muezzin (The Call to Prayer)
oil on canvas on masonite, 32 x 25 ½ in.; 81.28 x 64.77 cm
Gift of Francis T. B. Martin, 1995.37
One of the foremost Academic Orientalists, Gérôme undertook regular study trips to the Near East, which resulted in depictions of contemporary Arabian life. The muezzin’s call for prayer is a familiar feature of Muslim tradition, and Gérôme painted it with drama and characteristic attention to realistic detail. The minaret’s rich architectural ornamentation and the figure’s simple, dignified attire are beautifully and clearly rendered. Although Gérôme must have enjoyed actual roof-top views like this on his visits to Cairo, it is possible that he drew on photographs as well to capture the haze of heat and dust hanging over the ancient city.