Thumbs up or down? Pollice Verso (1872) by Jean-Léon Gérôme

Thumbs up or down? Pollice Verso (1872) by Jean-Léon Gérôme

12/27/2021, 2:41:27 PM
Thumbs up or down? Pollice Verso (1872) by Jean-Léon Gérôme shows how the winning gladiator is asking the spectators what to do with the defeated gladiator below his foot. It has been a full house in the Colosseum where many, including the emperor, have enjoyed a fierce fight. And now that there is a winner, the audience is consulted for advice. We can see the gladiator on the ground begging for mercy by raising two fingers. The audience in front of the winning gladiator is in agreement and shows the thumbs down (which is the meaning of the painting's title). The only problem is that it is not clear to us what this means exactly. There has been a debate for centuries on whether this means that the winner should finish off the loser, or whether he should be granted mercy. Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824-1904) meant it as a gesture that the loser had to die. But right after he finished this painting, a big discussion ensued about whether Gerome was right or not, and there is still no consensus about this. Anyway, the rest of the painting is pretty accurate, including the costumes and the architecture of the Colosseum which Gerome studied carefully. #Art #Painting #Artwork #ArtHistory #HistoryofArt #OilPainting #OilonCanvas #Gerome #JeanLeonGerome #FrenchArt #FrenchArtist #FrenchPainter #Gladiator #Fight #Rome #AncientRome #Colosseum #Winner #Loser #PolliceVerso #ThumbsUp #ThumbsDown #Phoenix #PhoenixArtMuseum

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