The first communion marks a child's initiation into the Christian Eucharist, the ritual consumption of consecrated bread and wine. Carrière's muted palette, fluid brushwork, and simplified forms lend an otherworldly aspect to the girl, enveloped in her white communion gown and veil. This painting and several others on the same subject have been associated with a religious triptych that the artist created about 1897 (current location unknown).
Use your arrow keys to navigate the tabs below, and your tab key to choose an item
Title:The First Communion
Artist:Eugène Carrière (French, Gournay-sur-Marne 1849–1906 Paris)
Medium:Oil on canvas
Dimensions:25 3/4 x 21 in. (65.4 x 53.3 cm)
Credit Line:Gift of Chester Dale, 1963
Inscription: Signed (lower right): Eugène Carrière
Max Dearly, Paris (until 1925; sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, December 11, 1925, no. 2, as "La Communiante," to Dale); Chester Dale, New York (1925–63)
Wingate, N.C. Wingate College. "Nineteenth Century," April 28–May 28, 1968, no catalogue.
New York. Kent Fine Art. "Eugène Carrière: The Symbol of Creation," May 8–June 30, 1990, unnumbered cat. (fig. 48, as "The Bride [First Communion]").
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. "Lost Paradise: Symbolist Europe," June 8–October 15, 1995, no. 43.
Ancienne Douane, Musées de Strasbourg. "Eugène Carrière: 1849–1906," October 19, 1996–February 9, 1997, no. 46.
Anne-Marie Berryer. "Eugène Carrière: Sa vie, son œuvre, son art, sa philosophie, son enseignement." PhD diss., Université de Bruxelles, 1935, vol. 1, p. 171, no. 627.
Robert James Bantens. Eugène Carrière: His Work and His Influence. PhD diss., Pennsylvania State University. Ann Arbor, 1983, pp. 64–65, 223 n. 160, fig. 24, dates it about 1896; relates it to the white-robed figure in "The Prayer II" (Private collection; Nora-Milin 2008, no. 805).
Robert James Bantens with an introduction by Robert Rosenblum. Eugène Carrière: The Symbol of Creation. Exh. cat., Kent Fine Art. New York, 1990, pp. 14, 81–83, fig. 48 (color), call it "The Bride (First Communion)" and date it 1896.
Gregory Galligan. "Metaphors for Forces Unseen." Art International 13 (Winter 1990), p. 96, calls it "a tremulous testament to matrimonial reluctance".
Guy Cogeval inLost Paradise: Symbolist Europe. Exh. cat., Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Montreal, 1995, pp. 312, 509, no. 43, colorpl. 458, dates it about 1896 and mentions it as an example of Symbolism's iconography of purity.
Katharine Baetjer. European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Artists Born Before 1865: A Summary Catalogue. New York, 1995, p. 492, ill.
Cécile Debray-Duhamel inEugène Carrière: 1849–1906. Exh. cat., Ancienne Douane, Musées de Strasbourg. Paris, 1996, pp. 152–53, no. 46, ill. (color), dates it about 1896; notes that Carrière first treated this subject in "The First Veil" (1886; Musée de beaux-arts, Toulon; Nora-Milin no. 181); remarks that it illustrates Carrière's definition of "une tache blanche où il y aurait tout"; suggests that it may have been a study for the triptych "Christ on the Cross" (now dispersed).
Véronique Nora-Milin with Alice Lamarre. Eugène Carrière, 1849–1906: Catalogue raisonné de l'œuvre peint. [Paris], 2008, p. 255, no. 808, ill., dates it about 1898; illustrates an oil study for this picture (Private collection, Paris; no. 809).
There is an oil study for this picture (private collection, Paris; Nora-Milin 2008, no. 809).
The Met Collection API is where all makers, creators, researchers, and dreamers can connect to the most up-to-date data and public domain images for The Met collection. Open Access data and public domain images are available for unrestricted commercial and noncommercial use without permission or fee.
We continue to research and examine historical and cultural context for objects in The Met collection. If you have comments or questions about this object record, please complete and submit this form. The Museum looks forward to receiving your comments.