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Pascal Adolphe Jean Dagnan-Bouveret

Bretons Praying


Pascal Adolphe Jean Dagnan-Bouveret
Paris 1852 – Quincey, France, 1929


Bretons Praying




Oil on canvas


123.5 x 68.9 cm


William F. Angus Bequest, inv. 1952.1073


Western Art

This painting is a remarkably sensitive portrait of rural life in northern France. Dagnan-Bouveret took up the theme of the Pardon, an old Breton folk pilgrimage entrenched in traditional faith, following his visits to Ormoy. Dagnan-Bouveret’s “Pardon” paintings appealed to a range of critics, from conservative to avant-garde. While the defenders of Beaux-Arts convention saw in these pictures a confirmation of traditional social and religious values, similar to the moralizing sentiment of religious themes, others read a newer, less orthodox meaning in which the traditional setting of Brittany, thoroughly foreign to the city art-lover, provided a critical arena for a psychological — even ethnographical — study of social behaviour. Dagnan-Bouveret employed an unusual working method for the time, using drawings and tracings made from in situ photographs of costumed worshippers and from more formally posed photographs of members of his family.

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