Puvis’s dealer exhibited this painting in 1887 with the title Tamaris, the French word for the tamarisk plant. Pink-blossoming shrubs around the woman reinforce her identity as a personification of the tamarisk, which is common to France’s southern coast. Her voluptuous pose was likely inspired by an ancient Greek sculpture.
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Artist:Pierre Puvis de Chavannes (French, Lyons 1824–1898 Paris)
Medium:Oil on canvas
Dimensions:10 x 15 1/2 in. (25.4 x 39.4 cm)
Credit Line:H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Gift of Mrs. J. Watson Webb, 1930
Inscription: Signed (lower left): P. Puvis de Chavannes
[Durand-Ruel, Paris, on consignment from the artist, from Nov. 9, 1887]; Robert de Bonnières, Paris (1887–at least 1895); [Paul Rosenberg, Paris, until 1903; sold on April 21, 1903, for Fr 10,000 to Havemeyer]; Mr. and Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, New York (1903–his d. 1907; shipped to them by Durand-Ruel, Paris on May 7, 1903); Mrs. H. O. (Louisine W.) Havemeyer, New York (1907–d. 1929; cat., 1931, p. 167); her daughter, Mrs. J. Watson (Electra Havemeyer) Webb, New York (1929–30)
Paris. Galeries Durand-Ruel. "Exposition de tableaux, pastels, dessins par M. Puvis de Chavannes," November 20–December 20, 1887, no. 23 (as "Tamaris").
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The H. O. Havemeyer Collection," March 10–November 2, 1930, no. 94 (as "Ariadne") [2nd ed., 1958, no. 180].
Washington. Corcoran Gallery of Art. "Visionaries and Dreamers," April 7–May 27, 1956, no. 21 (as "Ariadne").
Bloomington. Indiana University. "The Present-Day Vitality of the Classical Tradition," January 6–26, 1958, no. 58 (as "Ariane" [sic]).
London. Hayward Gallery. "French Symbolist Painters: Moreau, Puvis de Chavannes, Redon and their Followers," June 7–July 23, 1972, no. 219 (as "Tamaris").
Liverpool. Walker Art Gallery. "French Symbolist Painters: Moreau, Puvis de Chavannes, Redon and their Followers," August 9–September 17, 1972, no. 219.
New York. Shepherd Gallery. "Ingres & Delacroix through Degas & Puvis de Chavannes: The Figure in French Art, 1800–1870," May–June 1975, no. 113.
Toronto. Art Gallery of Ontario. "Puvis de Chavannes and the Modern Tradition," October 24–November 30, 1975, no. 22.
Paris. Grand Palais. "Puvis de Chavannes, 1824–1898," November 26, 1976–February 14, 1977, no. 178.
Ottawa. National Gallery of Canada. "Puvis de Chavannes, 1824–1898," March 18–May 1, 1977, no. 178.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection," March 27–June 20, 1993, no. A437.
Venice. Palazzo Grassi. "From Puvis de Chavannes to Matisse and Picasso: Toward Modern Art," February 10–June 16, 2002, no. 15.
Pierre Puvis de Chavannes. Letter to Durand-Ruel. November 9, 1887 [published in Lionello Venturi, "Les Archives de l'impressionnisme," vol. 2, Paris, 1939, p. 95], consigns this picture to Durand-Ruel as "Tamaris (petite toile)" with an asking price of Fr 1,000.
André Michel. "Exposition de M. Puvis de Chavannes." Gazette des beaux-arts, 2nd ser., 37 (January 1888), p. 43.
Marius Vachon. Puvis de Chavannes. Paris, 1895, ill. p. 3, as "Tamaris," in the collection of M. R. de Bonnières.
Léon Werth. "Puvis de Chavannes." Portraits d'Hier 1 (April 1909), p. 48 n. 1.
Léon Riotor. Puvis de Chavannes. Paris, , p. 66, mistakenly locates it still in the Robert de Bonnières collection.
Léonce Bénédite. Notre art, nos maîtres. Paris, [ca. 1922], p. 62.
Léon Werth. Puvis de Chavannes. Paris, 1926, p. 125, pl. 12.
H. O. Havemeyer Collection: Catalogue of Paintings, Prints, Sculpture and Objects of Art. n.p., 1931, p. 167, as "Nude—Ariadne".
Bernard Dorival. La peinture française. Paris, 1942, vol. 2, p. 105.
Josephine L. Allen and Elizabeth E. Gardner. A Concise Catalogue of the European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1954, p. 79.
Charles Sterling and Margaretta M. Salinger. French Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 2, XIX Century. New York, 1966, pp. 228–29, ill., call it "Tamaris," noting that this was the title of the picture during Puvis's lifetime; comment that the pink blossoms suggest the figure is the personification of the tamarisk, a shrub or small tree named from the valley of Tamaris in the Var; date it about 1880.
Marie-Thérèse de Forges. "Un nouveau tableau de Puvis de Chavannes au Musée du Louvre." Revue du Louvre et des musées de France 20, nos. 4–5 (1970), p. 244, compares it to one of the figures in Puvis' "Young Women by the Sea" (1879; Musée d'Orsay, Paris).
Wayne Andersen. "Gauguin's Calvary of the Maiden." Art Quarterly 34, no. 1 (1971), p. 95, fig. 15, refers to the pose as a "nineteenth-century cliché".
Mary Anne Stevens and Alan Bowness inFrench Symbolist Painters: Moreau, Puvis de Chavannes, Redon and their Followers. Ed. Alan Bowness. Exh. cat., Hayward Gallery. London, 1972, p. 109, no. 219, ill.
Martin L.H. Reymert et al. inIngres & Delacroix through Degas & Puvis de Chavannes: The Figure in French Art, 1800–1870. Exh. cat., Shepherd Gallery. New York, 1975, pp. 269–70, no. 113, ill., compares the figure's pose to Ingres' "Turkish Bath" (1862; Musée du Louvre, Paris).
Richard J. Wattenmaker. Puvis de Chavannes and the Modern Tradition. Exh. cat., Art Gallery of Ontario. Toronto, 1975, p. 70, no. 22, ill., observes that this type of composition would have interested Seurat.
Louise d'Argencourt inPuvis de Chavannes, 1824–1898. Exh. cat., Grand Palais, Paris. Ottawa, 1977, pp. 154, 199, no. 178, ill. p. 201 [French ed., Paris, 1976, pp. 156, 201, no. 178, ill. p. 203], dates it about 1885–86; observes that its general outlines are borrowed from the statue "Ariadne" in the Vatican and states that the figure derives directly from Puvis's personification of the river Saône in the stairway mural of 1866 in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lyons (Price no. 313); believes that the figure represents a water nymph in connection with the village of Tamaris on the Mediterranean; discusses the influence of Corot.
Albert Boime. Thomas Couture and the Eclectic Vision. New Haven, 1980, p. 612, calls it "Ariadne" and compares it to a figure sketch by Thomas Couture (Brooklyn Museum of Art).
Susan Alyson Stein inSplendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, pp. 235, 286.
Gretchen Wold inSplendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, p. 370, no. A437, ill.
Katharine Baetjer. European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Artists Born Before 1865: A Summary Catalogue. New York, 1995, p. 434, ill.
Serge Lemoine, ed. From Puvis de Chavannes to Matisse and Picasso: Toward Modern Art. Exh. cat., Palazzo Grassi, Venice. [Milan], 2002, p. 540, no. 15, ill. pp. 308–9 (color) and p. 541, dates it 1885–86.
Aimée Brown Price. Pierre Puvis de Chavannes. Vol. 1, The Artist and His Art. New Haven, 2010, pp. 112, 135, 165.
Aimée Brown Price. Pierre Puvis de Chavannes. Vol. 2, A Catalogue Raisonné of the Painted Work. New Haven, 2010, pp. 295–96, no. 319, ill. (color), calls it "Tamaris" or "Ariadne" and dates it about 1886–87; summarizes the different interpretations of the figure's identity, finding the relationship to Puvis's personification of the river Saône (about 1885–86; Musée de Beaux-Arts, Lyons; Price no. 313) and to the Vatican sculpture "Ariadne" most convincing [see Ref. d'Argencourt 1977].
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