Jean Léon Gérôme: the duel after a masquerade ball (1857)
(Musée Condé, Chantilly, France)
A well known painting of Gérôme. Gérôme shows the outcome of a duel which has taken place in february in the Bois de Boulogne, a large public park near Paris. It is dawn and the duel had just ended. Several persons are dressed as characters from the Commedia dell'arte. On the left we can see the losing side. A man dressed as Pierrot is mortally wounded and he collapses in the arms of the Duc de Guise. A Venetian doge examines the wound while Domino looks in despair. To the right the winning side is already walking away. A man dressed as an American Indian, accompanied by the Harlequin are walking towards the waiting coach. This painting was originally commissioned by the Duc d'Aumale and Gérôme has made several nearly identical versions of it. The American Indian stands for brutality, the Harlequin is an eternal trickster figure. Pierrot is the tragic pantomime, a symbol of unrequited love. The deeper meaning of it all, if there is any, is not known. this painting is from 1857.