Sunday, July 10, 2016

Punishment for Adultery (1876)

Jules-Arsène Garnier: Punishment for Adultery

Jules Arsene Garnier was born in Paris in 1847. He was a pupil of Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824-1904), a teacher who insisted on the highest standards of figure drawing. Although Garnier did not travel to the East, he did visit Spain and Holland, perhaps with Gérôme in 1874 to study the work of Frans Hals.

Les Supplice des Adultères was shown at the Salon in 1876. One of 2095 paintings selected for the show, Garnier was in the company of Clairin, Puvis de Chavannes, De Nittis and Gérôme. Their entries were inspired by Sarah Bernhardt, Ste. Genevieve, the Pyramids and Arabia. Les Supplice des Adultères was a result of a quote from Ludovic Lalanne (1815-1898). Lalanne was the author of Curiosities des Traditions, des Moeurs et des Legendes in which he described the punishment of discovered adulterers, who were disrobed and censured before the village. Garnier looked to literature for inspiration.

It is these illustrative qualities that give Les Supplice des Adultères its visual excitement. Attention to costume and architectural detail transfers us to another time and place. The critic Victor De Swarte, in his review of the Salon, complimented Garnier in his high-spirited interpretation of the punished adulterers, and "...un specimen exact de l'architecture du Moyen Age." [Christie’s]

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