Another favorite from Jean-Léon Gérôme. Pollice Verso is Latin for a gesture used during gladiatorial matches, given by the spectators when they wanted to indicate the victor should finish off his fallen opponent. The reverse signal would direct the gladiator to spare the victim instead. This painting shows the Emperor giving the gesture and the crowd follows his cue. The coliseum is reproduced from accurate drawings Gérôme studied from, and the armor based on findings at Pompeii, a popular archaeological find at the time, although it is not correctly assembled in this representation. Note the shafts of light that descend from the arena’s ceiling.
Artist: Jean-Léon Gérôme
Title: Pollice Verso
Medium: Oil on Canvas
Location: Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, Arizona, USA