In 1896, French artist, Jean-Léon Gérôme painted La Vérité sorta time du puits armée de son martinet pour châtier l’humanité.
(Truth coming from the well armed with her whip to chastise mankind).
The painting was suggested to be an expression of Gérôme’s hostility to impressionist movement, to which he was violently opposed. The expression is a translation of the aphorism of the philosopher Democritus, “of truth we know nothing, for truth is in an abyss”. The nude model refers to the naked truth.
In the 19th century, there was a legend created based on the painting.
Truth and Lie meet one day. Lie tells truth that “it’s a beautiful day today”. Truth looks up to the skies and sighs. For truly, it was a beautiful day.
Truth and Lie spent the whole day together, exchanging stories and having fun. During their stroll, they reach a well. Lie tells Truth, “the water looks very nice. Let’s take a dip together.” Truth, once again suspicious, tests the water and discovers that indeed, it was very nice. They undress and start bathing.
Suddenly, Lie jumps out of the well and puts on the clothes of Truth and runs away. The furious Truth comes out of the well and runs everywhere to find Lie so she could get her clothes back.
The World, seeing Truth all naked, turns it’s gaze away, with contempt and rage.
The poor Truth returns to the well and disappears forever, hiding therein, it’s shame.
Since then, Lie has traveled the world dressed as Truth, satisfying the needs of society, because the World, in any case, harbors no wish at all to meet the Naked Truth.
According to Gérôme’s biographer, Charles Moreau-Vauthier, Gérôme slept with this painting above his bed and was found after his death with his arm stretched towards it, in a gesture of farewell.
Since 1978, it has been part of a permanent exhibition at the Museé Anne de Beaujeu in Moulins, France.
(Thank you to my classmate Noel Tanglao for posting this story in our Viber group. This is a modified version.)