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Pierre Puvis de Chavannes

Orpheus

Artist

Pierre Puvis de Chavannes
Lyons 1824 – Paris 1898

Title

Orpheus

Date

About 1890

Materials

Pastel

Dimensions

38.5 x 28.7 cm

Credits

Purchase, Serge Desroches, Hermina Thau, David R. Morrice, Mary Eccles, Jean Agnes Reid Fleming, Geraldine C. Chisholm, Margaret A. Reid, F. Eleanore Morrice Bequests, inv. 2000.15

Collection

Graphic Arts

This pastel by leading French Symbolist painter Pierre Puvis de Chavannes depicts the ancient poet Orpheus, who sang nature’s praise to the accompaniment of his lyre. The artist began working in pastels in the mid-1880s. The solidly grounded Thracian landscape, the oratorical pose of the figure’s simplified silhouette, the harshness of the deep blue sea and the sheer cliff monumentalize this small work. The sheet is dedicated to the wife of playwright Philippe Gille, who wrote the libretto for Jules Massenet’s opera Manon and worked on Lakmé with Léo Delibes. Puvis de Chavannes had many contacts in the musical world.

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