Pollice Verso

Pollice Verso (1872), Jean-Leon Gérôme

The image above is known as Pollice Verso. Painted by French artist Jean-Léon Gérôme, you may have seen it before, or perhaps some version of it. It depicts a Murmillo, a type of gladiator favored during the Roman Imperial age, waiting to deliver a fatal blow. Above him, the crowd roils in a frenzy. The raw energy is palpable even through the canvas, or more accurately, our monitors.