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Fairytale or Mystery?

Audrey, Former TAG Member and High School Intern; Garrett, TAG Member; and Kristen, TAG Member

Posted: Monday, October 1, 2012

«We started our first Teen Advisory Group meeting of the 2012–13 school year with the question "If you were a book, would you rather be a fairytale or a mystery?" When we were asked to write a blog post introducing other teenagers to our favorite galleries at the Metropolitan Museum, that question stuck in our minds. We invite you to read the following tale about three knights who found themselves in the Museum's Galleries for 19th- and Early 20th-Century European Paintings and Sculpture.»

Once upon a time, three brave knights set off on a quest through the Metropolitan Museum in search of a welcoming space they could call home. Wandering through the labyrinth of the Museum's many halls, they stumbled upon galleries filled with nineteenth- and early twentieth-century European paintings.

The knights decided to stop and take a look at their surroundings. All of a sudden, they caught sight of two country maidens seated in the wild grass of Renoir's meadow. They skipped across Monet's lily pads and invited the maidens to travel with them through the galleries on Seurat's boat.

Auguste Renoir (French, 1841–1919). In the Meadow, 1888–92. Oil on canvas; 32 x 25 3/4 in. (81.3 x 65.4 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Bequest of Sam A. Lewisohn, 1951 (51.112.4)

To their surprise, the maidens refused! At that moment, one of Degas's ballerinas pirouetted into the gallery and explained, "The ladies of these galleries don't mingle with the people next door." Their curiosity piqued, the knights decided to explore the galleries next door to see what she meant. Armed with only their shields (their swords had been confiscated by security), they leapt into the next room.

Gustave Courbet (French, 1819–1877). Alphonse Promayet (1822–1872), 1851. Oil on canvas; 42 1/8 x 27 5/8 in. (107 x 70.2 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929 (29.100.132)

The soft, pastel brushstrokes in the previous galleries gave way to sharp lines and high contrast. Dark eyes followed the knights as they moved through this mysterious, new land. They crept past a shadowy, brooding portrait by Courbet and stumbled upon a boy with a sword. Defenseless, they had no choice but to make a run for it—straight into a matador, who waved his red cloth and sent them flying into Manet's Boating. Once they found their bearings, they decided to sail back to the bright colors and more serene atmosphere of the Impressionists.

While the three knights realized that they were better suited to live among the peaceful scenes of fairytales, they had gotten a taste of the darker, mysterious side of the nineteenth century and knew they would be back for more.

Audrey. Two Stories, One Era, 2012

Make sure to check back next week for an introduction to another section of the Metropolitan Museum's collection by TAG Members Evelin and Genevieve.


If you were a painting, would you rather be one that looked like a fairytale or a mystery?

We welcome your response to this question below.

Department(s): European Paintings

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About the Authors

Audrey was formerly a member of the Museum's Teen Advisory Group and an intern with the High School Internship program.

Garrett is a member of the Museum's Teen Advisory Group.

Kristen is a member of the Museum's Teen Advisory Group.

About this Blog

This blog, written by the Metropolitan Museum's Teen Advisory Group (TAG) and occasional guest authors, is a place for teens to talk about art at the Museum and related topics.