[Photo Forum Moderator]
"The Duel After the Masquerade"... the composition
A winter morning in the Bois de Boulogne (a large public park located along the western edge of the 16th arrondissement of Paris). A man dressed as a Pierrot (a stock male character in French pantomime) has been mortally wounded in a duel. A surgeon, dressed as a doge of Venice (leader of the Republic of Venice between 726 and 1797), tries to stop the flow of blood, while a Domino (a loose cloak, worn with a mask for the upper part of the face at masquerades) clutches his own head.
The survivor, dressed as an American Indian, walks away with his second, Harlequin (a mute character in traditional pantomime), leaving behind his weapon and some feathers of his headdress.
Why these masqueraded dudes were dueling is beyond me... It was characteristic of Gérôme to depict not a violent event itself, but the aftermath of violence...
Background information from various websites...