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Commissioned by William T. Walters in 1863, this oil on canvas would not be delivered until 20 years later and is now part of The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland as part of the collection bequeathed by the eponymous patron’s estate. The reasons for the procrastination are unclear, but, considering that the 1870s were the height of Gérôme’s production of Roman-themed paintings, it is likely that this piece had been finished at a much earlier date.
It portrays a rather common trope in the Christian imaginary, that of their early forebears being persecuted by the Roman Empire and executed by damnatio ad bestas, which means killed by wild beasts. In this rendition, a group of Christians performs their last prayer, surrounded by their brothers already crucified and covered in pitch, while their purported executors erupt from their underground chambers.
Even though there is little to no historical evidence of such practice being applied to Christians, it is still a mainstay in Christian culture, so much so that it has found its way into the English Language in the expression “Christians and lions.”
Such knowledge would not have been accessible to Gérôme, of course, but this inaccuracy is still fitting for this painting since it is joined by many others, which is especially surprising coming from an artist so well known for his usual dedication to accuracy in portraying Roman scenes. So much so that some critics would place this as the exception in Gérôme’s career where he placed drama and piety over accuracy.
But even though there are historical quandaries with the main action in the piece, it is in the background and the artist’s interpretation of it that the mistakes were made. In his correspondence with his patron Walters, the painter identifies the setting of the execution as the Circus Maximus, ancient Rome’s racecourse, which he reiterated with details such as the chariot tracks in the sand between the lions and their prey. The portrayal of the seated audience suggests the architectural features of the Colosseum.
In the background, shrouded in the haze of twilight, is a hill which Gérôme identified as the Palatine Hill, even though the depiction is more reminiscent of the Athenian Parthenon. Such aspects lead to believe that Gérôme composed this piece by combining different references to produce a background that would fit the drama of the foreground scene.
Real Oil Paints, Real Brushes, Real Artists, Real Art. The Certificate of Authenticity which arrives with every painting provides an assurance and verifies the authenticity of the hand painted fine art reproduction you purchased. Each oil painting is created by hand using only the finest canvas and oil paints available.
Important Notes About Your Painting:
If you have any request to alter your reproduction of The Christian Martyrs' Last Prayer, you must email us after placing your order and we'll have an artist contact you. If you have another image of The Christian Martyrs' Last Prayer that you would like the artist to work from, please include it as an attachment. Otherwise, we will reproduce the above image for you exactly as it is.
Free shipping is included in the price of the painting. Once the painting is ready and dry enough to ship, we will roll it and ship it in a sturdy cardboard tube.
We always ship express via courier to ensure your order reaches you as soon as possible - normally within three business days. The total delivery time from the moment you place your order until the package is delivered to your door is normally between three to four weeks.
If, in the unlikely event you were dissatisfied with the painting after reviewing it in person, it can be returned for a full refund for up to 365 days after delivery.
When you receive the painting; you are free to return it for more revisions or else for a full refund minus our actual shipping cost -- which is, on average, $25 per painting.
1st Art Gallery provides a full warranty covering manufacturing and material defects for paintings purchased from our website. The warranty covers damage for normal use. Damage caused by incidents such as accidents or inappropriate use are not covered.
Depending on the degree of damage to the warranted painting, it will either be repaired or replaced. This warranty service is provided free of charge.
When purchasing a painting on its own, it will arrive rolled inside a secure tube with an extra 1.5" of white canvas on all sides so you can easily frame it in any local frame shop.
You may choose to purchase your painting framed, in which case, it will arrive "ready to hang". We offer more than 20 beautiful models, all hand finished and expertly assembled by our experienced framers.
Note that for safety reasons we can only frame up to a certain size. Once the maximum size is reached the framing option is automatically disabled.
If you are planning to frame your painting yourself,
use an existing frame, or frame it locally, you may choose to order your painting with a stretching service,
meaning that it will arrive mounted on wooden bars.
If you're considering not framing your painting at all, you may opt for a Gallery Wrap. The term Gallery Wrap refers to the way the canvas is stretched, which is by wrapping it around thick stretcher bars, about 1.5 inch thick, with the canvas being secured to the back rather than the sides of those bars.
All orders ship with UPS, FedEx or DHL and will arrive directly to your home or office. A tracking number will be emailed to you as soon as the order leaves our studio so you can track it online. All orders ship express and usually arrive within 4-5 days from the shipping date. Due to shipping restraints, many of our framed, stretched, and oversize paintings may take 6-21 days for arrival depending on the safest route determined by the postal service.