I love this... "Gladiator" is such a triumph on so many levels, it wasn't a surprise to read this quote by Ridley Scott (article here), citing Jean Leon Gerome's Gladiator painting as the reason he agreed to make the film:
“I’ve known Walter Parks, the head of DreamWorks for years, he came in and gave me the script and said, ‘I don’t want you to read it yet as it needs a lot of work but this is what it’s all about.’ He then showed me this painting by a French painter called Gerome, I looked at it and said, ‘I’ll do it.’ He looked at me, shocked, and said, ‘But you don’t know what it’s about!”- Ridley Scott
As I watched "Gladiator" again, in preperation for this entry, the classical influence really becomes apparent in terms of cinematography, color, and dramatic compositions. Jean Leon Gerome is one of those ridiculously amazing painters that came from the apex of the french school in the late 19th century, that ebbed due to the rise of modern art that started with Manet and the Salon de Refuses. One of my favorite books of all time is The Judegment of Paris, by Ross King, a book that examines this incredible decade of art history.