"Sacrifice of the Last Devotees of the Wholesome Breakfast"
In his later years Gerôme's exhibitions were sponsored mainly by breakfast cereal companies, and he came under increasing pressure to support their social causes, such as the wiping out of more traditional breakfast fare like bacon and eggs. Finally realizing on which side his toast was buttered, he gave in and produced the subject work, using the classical theme of martyrdom in a veiled attempt to mitigate somewhat his strong feeling of betrayal. (His family owned a chain of Bed 'n' Breakfasts in the south of France that advertised lavish country morning fare — ham, biscuits and gravy, omelets, etc.)
The painting was at first a source of controversy, some critics accusing Gerôme of prostituting his art for a quick buck, others resenting the inclusion of well-known advertising symbols into the supposedly noncommercial museum and gallery environment. His sponsors quickly overrode these objections, buying space in leading art journals to hail them as a new art form, and eventually both critics and public came to accept what was called "Snap, Crackle & Pop Art."
Gerôme only completed two other works in this genre, "Captain Crunch Observing Prussian Fortifications" and the official portrait of the Transylvanian ruler, Count Chocula. He died shortly thereafter under suspicious circumstances. A lifelong diabetic, he apparently consumed four bowls of Lucky Charms in rapid succession, resulting in a coma which proved fatal.
Tony the Tiger™ is a trademark of the Kellogg Company.
The Trix™ Rabbit is a trademark of General Mills, Inc.
Sacrificing Christians™ was a trademark of the Roman Empire.