It has been said that the academic painting tradition reached its climax in the works of Jean-Léon Gérôme. His highly finished paintings exemplify the style, subject matter and technical mastery promoted by the French Académie des Beaux-Arts, where he was an influential instructor. Six journeys to the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East introduced an exotic element to his painting. More than two-thirds of his canvases are of orientalist subjects, and tigers feature in several of these.
According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gérôme attributed the success of his animal paintings to his early studies at the menagerie of the Jardin des Plantes; Paris’s famed botanical garden where artists gathered easel-to-easel to paint exotic animals. The tigers that provided the basis for Gérôme’s paintings were the same that appear in the junglescapes of Henri Rousseau and the sculptures of Antoine-Louis Barye.