Description: Charles X. Harris (Born 1856)
The Moulders, 1885
Signed and dated lower right "C.X. Harris 1885"
Location of Origin: North America
Medium/Materials: Oil on Canvas
Dimensions: 13 x 10 inches
Primary Classification: Fine Art : Paintings : Portraits / Figurative
Expertise: Exhibited: National Academy of Design, 1885
In 1875, Charles X. Harris, a talented young artist from Maine, gained admission to the esteemed L’École des Beaux-Arts in Paris where he studied under the acclaimed painter and sculptor, Jean-Léon Gérôme. To announce his return home, the American submitted “The Moulders” (in the extravagant yet colossal frame still with the painting) as his first entry to New York’s National Academy. With exacting detail and self-deprecating humor, the artist portrays himself as the fumbling assistant to his teachers: Alexandre Cabanel, slouched with a cigarette, and Jean-Léon Gérôme, the irreverent sculptor. Harris plays with the characters in his vignette, confusing reality: the elder stone chaperon scolds from a shelf; an innocent model of clay grasps at her undergarments. The scene speaks to a series made famous by the master present, Jean-Leon Gerome’s “Pygmalion and Galatea” from Ovid’s Metamorphosis. The story realizes a sculptor’s dream of his creation coming to life.
“The Moulders” was first exhibited at the National Academy of Art, New York in 1885. Jean-Léon Gérôme paints the first of his series in 1890. Student as master: master as student.