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Nineteenth-Century European Art - 5 of 7

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The Snake Charmer by Jean-Léon Gérôme

Jean-Léon Gérôme
French, 1824-1904
The Snake Charmer
c. 1870
Oil on canvas
83.8 x 122.1 cm
Acquired by Sterling and Francine Clark, 1942

The Snake Charmer focuses on a naked boy handling a python while an old man plays a fipple flute. Watching intently is a group of mercenaries differentiated by the distinctive costumes of their tribes, by ornaments, and by weapons. Such erotic and exotic imagery of Near Eastern subjects was very popular in the late nineteenth century. Despite the nearly photographic realism employed by Gérome, the painting is a pastiche of Egyptian, Turkish, and Indian elements that have no basis in reality.

This work is currently included as part of the Clark's international tour.