Artist: Maurice Denis (French, Granville 1870–1943 Saint-Germain-en-Laye)

Date: ca. 1894–99

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 31 3/4 x 38 1/2 in. (80.6 x 97.8 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Gift of David Allen Devrishian, 1999

Accession Number: 1999.180.2a,b


Springtime, with its associations of joyful new life, was a source of constant inspiration for Denis. This double-sided canvas presents two studies for his 1899 painting Virginal Spring (private collection), in which young women engage in a purification ritual evocative of Christian baptism and communion. The verdant setting is the Forest of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, near Paris, whose tree-lined glades and dainty wildflowers captivated Denis. He later reprised this composition in his mural series Eternal Spring (Musée départemental Maurice Denis, Saint-Germain-en-Laye), one of his most ambitious attempts at rejuvenating the practice of decorative painting in France.