Pierre Puvis de Chavannes French

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 800

This is a smaller replica of an 1867 painting (Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille) that Puvis regarded as his "favorite work." He associated the composition with a fragment from the Aeneid by the ancient Roman poet Virgil: "It was the hour when the first rest of weary mortals begins" (book 2, line 268). The text refers to a brief (and illusory) respite from war, but Puvis portrays untroubled repose after harvesting. By depicting sleepers of all ages, ranging from an old man to a mother cradling her baby, the artist creates an image of communal rest and protection.

Sleep, Pierre Puvis de Chavannes (French, Lyons 1824–1898 Paris), Oil on canvas

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