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Hypatia by Charles William Mitchell
Truth Coming Out of Her Well by Jean Leon Gerome - Passionate Painting
139    Dibyendu Banerjee    30/06/2024

According to a 19th century legend, one day the Lie met the Truth and asked her to go out for a walk as the day was lovely. The Truth liked the proposal, as she looked up to find a clear sky and realised that it was really a good day for having a stroll. So she readily agreed to have a walk together and spent a lot of time wandering aimlessly with the Lie, until they arrived beside a well. While taking a rest beside the well, Lie put her hand in the water and said that the temperature of the water is tempting and it would be a good idea to take a dip and get refreshed.

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However, the Truth was feeling a bit uncertain, yet she dipped her hand to feel the water and found it really refreshing. So she agreed and both of them undressed and started to plunge.

truth coming out of her well by jean leon gerome

However, all of a sudden, the Lie came out of the water, hastily dressed in the clothes of the Truth and ran away speedily, masquerading as the Truth in the world. It made the Truth stunned, she could hardly believe her eyes and could do nothing as she helplessly saw the Lie running away dressed in her clothes. However, she came out of the well and frantically ran everywhere to find the Lie and get her clothes back, while the world turned its gaze away in contempt and rage to see her naked. Finally, the poor Truth lost her hope, returned to the well and disappeared forever, hiding deep inside the well its shame and anguish, while the Lie pervades the world, dressed as Truth and satisfying the society, since the World, harbours no wish at all to meet the naked Truth in any way, giving birth to the expression that Truth lies at the bottom of a well.

truth coming out of her well by jean leon gerome

Truth Coming out of Her Well is considered one of the best works of Jean-Leon Gerome, a renowned French Neoclassical and Orientalist painter of his generation, known for his skills and theatrical art in his works. The painting depicts a nude woman with a pale skin facing the viewers, coming out of a well with her mouth open, as if she is shouting at or calling out to someone angrily.

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Her left leg is positioned over the wall of the well and her toes almost touching a step attached to the base of the well's wall, ready to stand up on it, although her right leg is still inside the well. However, her left hand is steadied on the wall of the well and in her right hand is holding a whip, which is hanging to the floor. The paleness of her skin is contrasted by her dark, almost black, long hair, and also by the generally dark background and green leaves behind her, while the surrounding is enveloped by the brown colour of the stones, the dark rust colour of the pulley and the brown of the bucket.

truth coming out of her well by jean leon gerome

Interestingly, in the last decade of his life, beginning in the mid-1890s, Jean-Leon Gerome created at least four paintings personifying the Naked Truth or Truth as a nude woman, either thrown in a well or drowned in the well or emerging from a well.

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However, Truth Coming Out of Her Well was exhibited at the famed Paris Salon in 1896 and since 1978, it is part of a permanent exhibition at the Musée Anne de Beaujeu in Moulins, France.

truth coming out of her well by jean leon gerome
Hypatia by Charles William Mitchell
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Author Details
Dibyendu Banerjee
Ex student of Scottish Church College. Served a Nationalised Bank for nearly 35 years. Authored novels in Bengali. Translated into Bengali novels/short stories of Leo Tolstoy, Eric Maria Remarque, D.H.Lawrence, Harold Robbins, Guy de Maupassant, Somerset Maugham and others. Also compiled collections of short stories from Africa and Third World. Interested in literature, history, music, sports and international films.
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