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Pascal Adolphe Jean Dagnan-Bouveret

Bretons Praying

Artist

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

Title

Bretons Praying

Date

1888

Materials

Oil on canvas

Dimensions

123.5 x 68.9 cm

Credits

William F. Angus Bequest, inv. 1952.1073

Collection

Western Art

This painting is a remarkably sensitive portrait of rural life in northern France. P.A.J. Dagnan-Bouveret took up the theme of the Pardon, an old Breton folk pilgrimage entrenched in traditional faith, following his visits to Ormoy. The artist’s Pardon paintings appealed to a wide range of critics, from conservative to avant-garde. The defenders of academicism saw in these pictures a confirmation of traditional social and religious values, similar to moralizing subjects, and others read a newer, less orthodox meaning in which the popular traditions of Brittany, thoroughly foreign to the Paris 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 photographs of Bretons in traditional costumes and from more formally posed photographs of members of his family.

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