Study for Les Jeunes Filles et la Mort (Death and the Maidens), c. 1872

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This drawing depicts two figure studies for "Les Jeunes Filles et la Mort (The Young Maidens and Death)," a painting rejected from the Salon of 1872. In the painting, two groups of girls, one pair dancing in th background, the other standing pensively in the foreground, seem to be ignorant of the grim reaper lurking on the left side of the composition. The recent Franco-Prussian War inspired many late 19th century French painters to examine themes about the transience of life.

While the face of the figure on the left is rather generalized in appearance, the misshapen ear may identify the model as Princess Marie Cantazucène, Puvis de Chavanne's longtime companion and eventual wife. Apparently self-conscious, the princess often covered her ears with her hair or scarf in portraits. The drawing has been squared for transfer.

Study for Les Jeunes Filles et la Mort (Death and the Maidens)
Artist Life
1824 - 1898
Accession Number
[Durand-Ruel, Paris, until 1912'; stock no. 6603, sold to Hill']; James J. Hill, Saint Paul (1912'-d. 1916); by descent to his daughter, Clara Hill (Mrs. Erasmus C) Lindley (1916-1942; given to MIA)
Curator Approved

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