Le Trait d’Union

Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux French

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 552

The term trait d’union is French for hyphen, the sign linking the parts of a compound word. Here it poetically signifies the familial ties that were renewed when Carpeaux and his wife reconciled after their little son Charles recovered from terrifying convulsions. Amélie is on Carpeaux’s lap. Charles binds their heads in an embrace. The reconciliation was brief and Carpeaux himself was soon jealous all over again and already desperately sick.

Le Trait d’Union, Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux (French, Valenciennes 1827–1875 Courbevoie), Terracotta, French, Paris

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