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The Path of Nature: Scenic Routes


The Storm

Pierre-Auguste Cot (French, Bédarieux 1837–1883 Paris)

Oil on canvas
92 1/4 x 61 3/4 in. (234.3 x 156.8 cm)
Credit Line:
Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Collection, Bequest of Catharine Lorillard Wolfe, 1887
Accession Number:
  • Gallery Label

    Catharine Lorillard Wolfe commissioned this painting in 1880 under the guidance of her cousin John Wolfe, who was one of Cot's principal patrons. When it was exhibited at the Salon that year, critics speculated about the source of the subject. Some suggested the Greek romance Daphnis and Chloe by Longus (ca. A.D. 200) and others, the romantic tale Paul and Virginie by Bernardin de Saint-Pierre (1737–1814), two favorites of nineteenth-century readers. The latter story contains a scene in which the teenage protagonists run for shelter in a rainstorm, using Virginie’s overskirt as an impromptu umbrella.

    Like Cot’s earlier Springtime (2012.575), The Storm was immensely popular and widely reproduced, not only in engravings and photographs but also in the decorative arts—from tapestries to fans and porcelains.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Signed and dated (lower left): P+A+COT+1880

  • Provenance

    Catharine Lorillard Wolfe, New York (1880–d. 1887; commissioned from the artist)

  • Exhibition History

    Paris. Salon. May 1–?, 1880, no. 902 (as "L'orage").

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Taste of the Seventies," April 2–September 10, 1946, no. 80.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Impressionism: A Centenary Exhibition," December 12, 1974–February 10, 1975, not in catalogue.

    Tulsa. Philbrook Museum of Art. "In the Studios of Paris: William Bouguereau & His American Students," September 17–December 31, 2006, no. 20.

    Ocala, Fla. Appleton Museum of Art. "In the Studios of Paris: William Bouguereau & His American Students," February 9–May 27, 2007, no. 20.

  • References

    The Art Treasures of America. reprint, 1977. New York, 1879, vol. 1, p. 134, ill. p. 125 (drawing after the painting).

    Ph[ilippe]. de Chennevières. "Le Salon de 1880." Gazette des beaux-arts 21 (June 1880), p. 510 [reprinted as "Le Salon de peinture en 1880," 1880], calls it a "vrai pendant" to Cot's "Balançoire" ["Springtime", now in the MMA, 2012.575];
    criticizes its banality, commenting that this picture "n'ont rien de commun avec les inquiétudes et les rudes préoccupations de l'art véritable".

    René Delorme. "La Peinture de genre." L'Exposition des beaux-arts (Salon de 1880). Paris, 1880, unpaginated, ill. (drawing after the painting), interprets the couple as Paul and Virginie [see Refs. Sterling and Salinger 1966, Rubin 1980, Metropolitan Museum Journal]; calls it a triumph of conventionality and criticizes the resemblance of the figures to porcelain enamel.

    Émile Michel. "Le Salon de 1880." Revue des deux mondes, 3ème pér., 39 (May 1, 1880), pp. 682–83, predicts that this picture will be as popular and overexposed as "Springtime" (2012.575).

    Roger-Ballu. La Peinture au Salon de 1880. Paris, 1880, p. 67, relates the painting to the figures in Cot's "Springtime," 1873 (2012.575).

    Maurice du Seigneur. L'Art et les artistes au Salon de 1880. Paris, 1880, pp. 30–31, remarks upon the popularity of this image, calling the figures Daphnis and Chloë [see Refs. Sterling and Salinger 1966, Ross 1980, Metropolitan Museum Journal]; comments that the couple is running "après le succès bourgeois".

    Frédéric de Syène. "Salon de 1880." L'Artiste, 9ème série, 31 (May–June 1880), p. 346, comments that if the figures are meant to represent the story of Daphnis, they seem too sophisticated

    Eugène Montrosier. "Les Peintres de genre." Les Artistes modernes. 1, Paris, 1881, p. 147, calls it "Après l'orage," a scene borrowed from Bernardin de Saint-Pierre ["Paul et Virginie"].

    Montezuma [Montague Marks]. "My Note Book." Art Amateur 16 (May 1887), p. 122.

    Mrs. Schuyler van Rensselaer. "The Wolfe Collection at the Metropolitan Museum. I." Independent 39 (November 17, 1887), p. 6.

    Clarence Cook. Art and Artists of Our Time. New York, 1888, vol. 1, pp. 88–90, ill., states that it was commissioned by Wolfe; considers it likely a depiction of the story of Paul and Virginie "that gives pleasure to a public that likes to be amused, and is not over critical in the matter of probabilities".

    Walter Rowlands. "The Miss Wolfe Collection." Art Journal, n.s., (January 1889), p. 13.

    "The Catherine [sic] Wolfe Collection of Paintings." National Magazine (July–August 1893), p. 180, criticizes the popular reproductions after this picture.

    "The Metropolitan Museum of Art—The French Painters." New York Times (May 22, 1895), p. 4.

    Catalogue of the Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1898, p. 157, no. 525, states that it was painted to order.

    Arthur Hoeber. The Treasures of The Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York. New York, 1899, pp. 82–83, ill., notes that Cot made many replicas of this painting.

    C. H. Stranahan. A History of French Painting from its Earliest to its Latest Practice. New York, 1899, p. 411.

    Schrier Painting is Sold for $5,500 (January 18, 1919), p. 11, writes that the original studies for this painting and "Springtime" (2012.575) were sold at the John W. Sterling sale for $775 each, to Herbert Day.

    Eva Maria Neumeyer. "The 'Jupon Bouffant' in Bernardin de Saint-Pierre's 'Paul et Virginie'." Gazette des beaux-arts 29 (May 1946), p. 301 n. 25, fig. 5, considers it probably related to the "Paul and Virginie" theme; compares it to Prud'hon's "La Vengeance".

    Harry B. Wehle. "Seventy-Five Years Ago." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 4 (April 1946), p. 202, ill. p. 212.

    Charles Sterling and Margaretta M. Salinger. "XIX Century." French Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2, New York, 1966, pp. 193–94, ill., note that Cot painted it for Wolfe; consider it probable that Cot based the figures on the story of Daphnis and Chloë by the fourth century Greek writer, Longus, but alluded to the scene of Paul and Virginie sheltering under a cloak because of the popularity of this story by Bernardin de Saint-Pierre [published in 1788]; mention the influence of Prud'hon, who illustrated editions of both stories.

    John Rewald. "Should Hoving Be De-accessioned?" Art in America 61 (January–February 1973), p. 28.

    Carl R. Baldwin The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Impressionist Epoch. [New York], 1974, pp. 22–23, ill.

    James Henry Rubin. "Who was Pierre-Auguste Cot?" Nineteenth Century 6 (Spring 1980), pp. 36–37, 39 n. 2, fig. 1, asserts that this painting does not represent academic painting, but rather a "sellout to commercialism supported by unenlightened bourgeois taste".

    James Henry Rubin. "Pierre-Auguste Cot's 'The Storm'." Metropolitan Museum Journal 14 (1980), pp. 191–200, fig. 1, calls this picture and "Springtime" "spiritual pendants," adding that the success of the earlier painting led to the creation of "The Storm"; reproduces several related drawings; suggests that the subject is more closely based on "Daphnis and Chloë" than "Paul et Virginie"; discusses it as a fashionable image of its time, noting its reproduction in an engraving commissioned by Knoedler and on tapestries, fans, screens, porcelains, and various caricatures.

    Hilton Brown. "Academic Art Education and Studio Practices." American Artist 49 (February 1985), pp. 44–45, ill., recalls that in art school, this painting "was consistently shown as the best example of the worst kind of academic painting".

    19th Century European Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture. Sotheby's, New York. November 1, 1995, unpaginated, under no. 117, reproduces a later and smaller version of this painting.

    Carol Vogel. "'Springtime' Rediscovered." New York Times (February 9, 1996), p. C26.

    Rebecca A. Rabinow. "Catharine Lorillard Wolfe: The First Woman Benefactor of the Metropolitan Museum." Apollo 147 (March 1998), p. 52, fig. 9 (color).

    Important 19th Century European Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture. Sotheby's, New York. May 5, 1999, pp. 114–17, under no. 99, fig. 1.

    Fred Ross. "The Story of 'Springtime'." Artnet. January 6, 2000, ill. (color) [www.artnet.com/magazine/features/ross/ross1-6-00.asp].

    Anne Hollander. Fabric of Vision: Dress and Drapery in Painting. Exh. cat., National Gallery. London, 2002, p. 145, fig. 107 (color), observes that "the fantasy dress of this Arcadian pair suggests the current fashionable conventions for clothing the sexes: the blue sash fastening his brown pelts and hunting horn suggests a blue cravat with a tweedy, brown informal suit, while her busy white non-garment seems to be a see-through version of an elaborate dress".

    James F. Peck. In the Studios of Paris: William Bouguereau & His American Students. Exh. cat., Philbrook Museum of Art. Tulsa, 2006, p. 124 n. 3, pp. 126–27, 144, 193, no. 20, ill. (color), calls it Cot's "attempt to duplicate the great success of 'Springtime'"; states that Wolfe purchased it from the Salon; notes the influence of Bouguereau on this picture.

  • Notes

    Cot purportedly made several replicas of this composition, including one sold at Sotheby's, New York on November 1, 1995. Rubin [Ref. 1980, Metropolitan Museum Journal] reproduces related drawings and mentions an engraving after the picture by Amédée and Eugène Varin. Cot's painting "Springtime," 1873 (2012.575), depicting a couple on a swing, is often discussed as a precursor to this painting [see Refs. Rubin 1980, Peck 2006].

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History