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Docent Diary: The Two Majesties

Jean-Léon Gérôme, The Two Majesties (Les Deux Majestés), 1883. Layton Art Collection, Gift of Louis Allis L1968.82.

From Museum docent Carl Becker: On a recent “Weather and Seasons” tour with fourth graders, we stopped in front of The Two Majesties to discuss the painting and the North African desert location. I asked the children how they would feel in the environment depicted in the painting.

“How would you feel if you were standing in this picture?”

I received the usual responses: warm, hot, dry, etc. Then one young man responded, “I would feel afraid.”

“Afraid? Why would you feel afraid?”

“Because I would be standing next to a lion.”

DUH!

Chelsea Kelly, the School and Teacher Programs Manager, oversees school tours, special K-12 programming, and events for teachers at the Museum, and also creates resources for educators about the artworks in the Museum’s Collection.

2 replies on “Docent Diary: The Two Majesties”

I have a framed reproduction of “The Two Majesties” by Gerome. When I first saw this, the “Skeleton Coast” came to mind. Is this accurate?

Hi Larry! Yes, you’re on the right track! Gérôme visited Northern Africa, specifically Egypt, which is where he got inspiration for this work. (He didn’t paint on site, but rather would do sketches there, then create larger panels like this one back in his workshop in France–he’d sort of puzzle-piece together the best parts. After all, a lion probably wouldn’t be on a beach.) Anyway, it looks like the Skeleton Coast is in Southern Africa, so I don’t think he specifically went there–he stuck to Northern Africa. But, I suspect that the landscape there is somewhat similar, certainly enough that it would make a lot of sense for you to be reminded of the Skeleton Coast. Good eyes!

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