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

Oil on canvas
84 x 50 in. (213.4 x 127 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Steven and Alexandra Cohen, 2012
Accession Number:
  • Gallery Label

    Cot, who received his academic training at the hands of Bouguereau, Cabanel, and Léon Cogniet, first exhibited at the Salon of 1863. For the next two decades he enjoyed success as a painter of allegorical and historical pictures and as a fashionable portraitist. This painting remains Cot’s most celebrated work. It was exhibited to great acclaim at the Salon of 1873, which also featured Bouguereau’s Nymphs and Satyr (L.2012.29). John Wolfe bought both paintings after the close of the Salon and hung them side-by-side in his stately Manhattan residence.

    A visitor to the Wolfe home described the flirtatious duo in Springtime as "in the most dangerous and inflammable of the teens…The cunning eagerness with which the maid looks right into the boy’s eyes is modern in meaning and antique in dress; hence the acceptability of this Arcadian idyll, peppered with French spice."

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Signed and dated (lower right): P + A + COT 1873

  • Provenance

    John Wolfe, New York (1873–82; bought from the artist during the Salon of 1873; Wolfe sale, Chickering Hall, New York, April 5–6, 1882, no. 50, for $9,700, to Lyall); David C. Lyall, Brooklyn (1882–died 1903; estate sale, American Art Association, New York, February 19, 1903, no. 105, to F. J. Goodwin as agent for Goodnow and Bigelow); Mrs. E. L. Goodnow and Mrs. I. L. Bigelow, Brooklyn, N.Y. (from 1903; on loan to the Brooklyn Museum, 1903–39, when returned to Goodnow family); Goodnow (by 1939); unidentified hotel, Wilkes-Barre, Pa. (until 1980; sold to Michelman); [Joan Michelman, New York, 1980; sold to Ross]; Mr. and Mrs. Frederick C. Ross, New Jersey (1980–99; on loan to MMA, 1996–99; sale, Sotheby's, New York, May 5, 1999, no. 99, bought in); Steven and Alexandra Cohen, Greenwich, Ct. (until 2012; on loan to MMA, 2006–12)

  • Exhibition History

    Paris. Salon. 1873.

    Brooklyn Art Association. "Fancie Bazaar, In Ayde of Ye Sheltering Arms Nurserie," January 22–28, 1883, no. 138 lent by D.C. Lyall.

    Brooklyn Museum. "Summer Exhibition," June 7–October 1, 1933, no catalogue.

  • References

    Castagnary. "Salon de 1873." Le Siècle (May 10, 1873) [reprinted in Castagnary, "Salons (1872–1879)," vol. 2, Paris, 1892, p. 92]

    , writes "M. Cot redeems with a pretty face the unsavory succes earned by his swing," referring respectively to the portrait of Mlle P....shown at the 1873 Salon, and the present painting.

    Ernest d'Hervilly. "Le Salon de 1873." La Renaissance Littéraire et Artistique 2, no. 17 (May 31, 1873), p. 129 [reprint ed., Geneva, 1973], calls it "Amants sur un balançoire".

    L'Univers illustré (September 6, 1873), ill. p. 569.

    The Art Treasures of America. reprint, 1977. New York, 1879, vol. 1, pp. 54, 64, ill. btwn. p. 54 and 55, calls it both "Springtime" and "Spring;" describes it hanging beside Bouguereau's "Nymphs and Satyr" (Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Mass.).

    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], describes it as a "vrai pendant" to Cot's "The Storm" (MMA 87.15.34).

    René Delorme. "La Peinture de genre." L'Exposition des beaux-arts (Salon de 1880). Paris, 1880, unpaginated, describes the figures as the same couple who appear in Cot's 'The Storm" (87.15.34) and identifies them as Paul and Virginie [see Refs. for "The Storm"].

    Émile Michel. "Le Salon de 1880." Revue des deux mondes, 3ème pér., 39 (May 1, 1880), pp. 682–83, notes the painting's persistent popularity, including reproductions in engraving, enamel, and on porcelain.

    Roger-Ballu. La Peinture au Salon de 1880. Paris, 1880, p. 67, calls it "Balançoire;" describes the figures.

    Maurice du Seigneur. L'Art et les artistes au Salon de 1880. Paris, 1880, p. 31, describes the figures as the same couple who appear in Cot's "The Storm" (87.15.134), and identifies them as Daphnis and Chloé [see Refs. for "The Storm"]; notes that the composition has been extensively reproduced in a range of media.

    "Current Events." Brooklyn Eagle (April 6, 1882), p. 2, writes that it sold for $9,700, the highest price of the evening at the Wolfe sale.

    "High Prices for Paintings. Lively Competition to Secure Gems from John Wolfe's Collection." New York Times (April 6, 1882), p. 2, notes that it sold for $9,700 [the highest price of the evening] to D.C. Lyall of Brooklyn.

    "Splendid. The Loan Exhibition at the Art Association Rooms." Brooklyn Eagle (January 22, 1883), p. 4, calls it "one of the most beautiful pictures in the city"; notes that it was among a number of pictures loaned by Lyall.

    "Art Exhibition and Bazar for the Sheltering Arms Nursery." Brooklyn Eagle (January 19, 1883), p. 2.

    Weston Coyney. "The Lyall Collection." The Collector 3 (October 15, 1892), p. 310.

    Weston Coyney in "The Late David C. Lyall's Collection." The Eagle and Brooklyn: History of the City of Brooklyn. Brooklyn, 1893, vol. 2, p. 790.

    Montague Marks. "My Note Book." The Art Amateur 30, no. 6 (May 1894), p. 154, incorrectly calls it a replica and locates the original in the A. T. Stewart collection.

    The Lyall Collection (February 4, 1903), p. 9, compares it to the work of Bouguereau and Fragonard; calls it Cot's masterpiece and notes its extraordinary popularity.

    "Big Prices at Lyall Sale." New York Times (February 11, 1903), p. 2, writes that it was bought by F. J. Goodwin for $3,100.

    "The Brooklyn Museum. Gifts and Loans of Pictures to the Art Museum of Brooklyn Borough by Noted Citizens." New York Times (June 17, 1903), p. 9, writes that the painting was bought in by the family at the Lyall sale and that Lyall's daughters, Mrs. Goodwin and Mrs. Bigelow, have lent the picture to the Brooklyn Museum.

    "Art Notes." New York Times (February 15, 1903), p. 26, remarks that it did not fetch a high price in the Lyall sale.

    Schrier Painting is Sold for $5,500 (January 18, 1919), p. 11, writes that the original studies for this painting and "The Storm" (87.15.134) were sold at the John W. Sterling sale for $775 each, to Herbert Day.

    Howard Devree. "The Brooklyn Museum's Summer Shows of Paintings and of Arms and Armor." New York Times (July 23, 1933), p. X5.

    James Henry Rubin. "Who was Pierre-Auguste Cot?" Nineteenth Century 6 (Spring 1980), pp. 36–8, fig. 2, discusses the early history of the painting and the fate of a copy sold in 1974.

    James Henry Rubin. "Pierre-Auguste Cot's 'The Storm'." Metropolitan Museum Journal 14 (1980), pp. 191, 193–94, 196–97, 199–200, fig. 3, discusses the early provenance of the picture, suggesting that its presence in the collection of John Wolfe motivated his cousin Catharine Lorillard Wolfe to commission "The Storm" and calling the two works "spiritual pendants"


    Marguerite Smolen (EP approved). "High Romance." New Jersey Monthly 13 (October 1988), pp. 108, 112, ill. (color), states that Ross purchased the painting from an art dealer who discovered it hanging in a hotel in Wilkes-Barre, Penn.

    Carol Vogel. "'Springtime' Rediscovered." New York Times (February 9, 1996), p. C26, states that it was discovered in a hotel in Wilkes Barre, Penn., in 1980, and sold by the hotel owners via dealer Joan Michelman to Ross.

    Kathryn Manzo. "Collectors and Their Collections: The Collection of Fred and Sherry Ross." Classical Realism Journal 3, no. 2 (1997), front cover, pp. 2, 35, ill. (color).

    Fred Ross. "The Story of 'Springtime'." Artnet. January 6, 2000, ill. (color) [www.artnet.com/magazine/features/ross/ross1-6-00.asp], discusses the details of his purchase of the painting from Michelman.

    James F. Peck. In the Studios of Paris: William Bouguereau & His American Students. Exh. cat., Philbrook Museum of Art. Tulsa, 2006, pp. 124, 126, mentions three known reductions of the MMA painting, including one in The Appleton Museum of Art, Ocala, FL.; notes the influence of Bouguereau on the picture.

    Carol Vogel. "Reunion of Two Paintings." New York Times (July 6, 2012), p. C20.

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History