Jean-Leon Gerome (1824-1904) was an undisputed success during his life. Crowds flocked to see his vibrant compositions and thanks to mass marketing of his work through mechanical reproduction, he reached audiences on an unprecedented scale. Despite Gerome's undisputed accomplishments, his success met with critical hostility. Emile Zola, champion of Edouard Manet, dismissed Gerome as a cynical manufacturer of anecdotal images for popular consumption - a critique repeatedly levelled at artists in the years since. In light of revisionist and postmodern trends over the past four decades, however, Gerome's work is now being approached with unprecedented seriousness and refreshing candour. The ten essays in this volume go far in challenging critical biases against the artist and indeed suggest that we are just beginning to learn how to 'read' Gerome's paintings in their full complexity.