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Currently shown
Théodore Chassériau

Young Woman Weeping at a Stela, or Remembrance

Artist

Théodore Chassériau
Santa Bárbara de Samaná, Dominican Republic, 1819 – Paris 1856

Title

Young Woman Weeping at a Stela, or Remembrance

Date

1840

Materials

Oil on canvas

Dimensions

61.2 x 50.1 cm

Credits

Purchase, the Museum Campaign 1988-1993 Fund, inv. 2010.42

Collection

Western Art

Chassériau was an astonishingly precocious artist whose talent and enthusiasm earned him admission, at the age of eleven, to the prestigious studio of Ingres, the all-powerful champion of Classicism against the Romanticism of painters like Delacroix. The young painter gained the enthusiastic support of the poet and critic Théophile Gautier. Chassériau discovered Romanticism, admired Delacroix and freed himself from the influence of his old teacher. Sometimes called Remembrance, a young girl modestly hides her tears, but the glorious blond hair rippling down over her classical attire suggests her beauty. In a light that could be dawn or sunset, the sun casts a reddish glow through the knotty trunks of olive trees wreathed in ivy, the symbol of eternal fidelity. Neither a pensive Melancholy nor a veiled mourner—two types that were coming back into fashion as the century neared its end—this is, rather, a figure of Grief. Less Greek, more Oriental, Chassériau’s increasingly sensual, dazzling Romanticism would bring him great fame before he succumbed to illness at the age of only thirty-seven.

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