Ave Caesar! Morituri te salutant (Hail Caesar! We Who Are about to Die Salute You) Artist: Jean-Léon Gérôme (French, 1824–1904)


European Art

On view, 2nd floor, European Art

Gérôme considered this painting, submitted to the Salon of 1859 in Paris, one of his most successful compositions. Roman gladiators were an unusual subject, even for historicizing painters like Gérôme. While these scenes look like fanciful reconstructions (especially when seen through the lens of American cinema, which drew heavily on such canvases for inspiration), Gérôme was in fact greatly preoccupied with historical accuracy, studying archaeological excavations and antique weapons. The title is taken from an episode in Suetonius’s Life of the Caesars (second century A.D.); criminals and captives greeted the emperor with these words.


Oil on canvas


unframed: 36 5/8 × 57 1/4 in. (93.1 × 145.4 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of C. Ruxton Love, Jr., B.A. 1925

Accession Number



19th century


Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of records is ongoing.



Salon of 1859, Paris; Goupil's, New York, 1860, no. 70 (as "The Gladiators"); Gambart Collection, London; Christie's, London, 3 May 1861(Gambart to Petit); Petit Collection; Universal Exposition, Paris, 1867 (as property of Eddy Matthews); Graves Collections (Christie's, London, 6 June 1891); Mr. C. Ruxton Love (Parke-Bernet, New York, 18 April 1962, no. 83).

  • Pierre Sérié, La Peinture d'Histoire en France 1860–1900, la lyre ou le poignard (Paris: Arthe´na, 2014), 61, fig. 44
  • William Innes Homer, The Paris Letters of Thomas Eakins (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2009), ill
  • Sotheby's France, Paris, Tableaux, sculptures et dessins anciens et du XIXe siècle, sale cat. (2002), 100, no. 90
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

human figures (visual works)


shields weapons

Technical metadata and APIs


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