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Truth Coming Out of Her Well, Jean-Leon Gerome - Meaning and Analysis Painting



Truth Coming Out of Her Well - Jean-Leon Gerome. Canvas, oil. 91 x 72 cm


When inventing the plots for his future paintings, Jean Gerome used to turn to historical motifs starting from ancient times and up to the present. He learned to manipulate the plots, making them leave a lasting impression on the audience.

Talking of the painting titled "Truth Coming Out of the Well", one cannot remain silent about its predecessor. The picture was created back in 1894. On it, the artist depicted Truth in the image of a woman. Liars and hypocrites are merciless, and they throw her into a deep hole. The spirit of Truth hovers over her body. Brought up on Greek manuscripts, Jerome used the words of Democritus to sign the painting: "Truth lies at the bottom of the well."

It was 1895 when the artist presented another "Truth" to the audience. The murdered woman gets resurrected and, having gathered all of her power, managed to rise from the depths of stone captivity. Her being completely naked immediately suggests the idea of the "naked truth." Although the young woman is beautiful, her face is contorted with the wrath and pain from the sorrows caused by people. Her eyes glow with a desire to punish those who did not respond to her calls for help. Her leg is thrown over the edge of the well and is just about to touch the ground. Truth will go in search of her offenders.

In total, the four versions of this picture exist; two of them were exhibited by the Salon and they brought unprecedented success to the aging painter. Today, the paintings belong to the French museums.

Knowing Jerome as the painter often working for the public, many of his critics were actually inclined to assume that he was prompted to created his “Truth” by the high-profile “case of Alfred Dreyfus”, who was undeservedly accused of treason.

The contemporary art historians completely reject this version; however, the main indisputable fact is that Jean-Leon Gerome left behind a formidable memento: "The truth is always somewhere around, and its punishing whip is merciless to liars and slanderers."
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