The First Communion

Artist: Eugène Carrière (French, Gournay 1849–1906 Paris)

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 25 3/4 x 21 in. (65.4 x 53.3 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Gift of Chester Dale, 1963

Accession Number: 63.138.5


This picture of a girl's first communion, which probably dates to around 1896, reflects Carrière's interest in Christian subjects. Rather than representing the religious ceremony, however, Carrière conveys the mystical aspect of the event through the figure's stylized form, expressionless face, and ghostly presence. This depiction of spiritual and physical purity, emphasized here by the prevalence of the color white, is in keeping with the Symbolist era's fascination with childhood innocence and feminine virtue.