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Art/ Collection/ Art Object

The River

Pierre Puvis de Chavannes (French, Lyons 1824–1898 Paris)
ca. 1864
Oil on paper, laid down on canvas
51 x 99 1/4 in. (129.5 x 252.1 cm)
Credit Line:
Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Collection, Wolfe Fund, 1926
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 800
Cider (26.46.1) and The River are studies for the left and right sides, respectively, of Puvis’s mural Ave Picardia nutrix (Hail, Picardy the Nourisher), commissioned for the newly-constructed Musée de Picardie in Amiens in 1864. The artist described the design as "France’s salute to the dawn of one of the country’s richest provinces." Both studies are considerably reworked, revealing the development of his conception. The pressing of apples in Cider evokes the fecundity of the land, and The River celebrates water, with men building a bridge across the Somme as women bathe and mend fishing nets.
Inscription: Signed (lower right): P.Puvis de Chavannes
the artist (until 1893; sold on September 6, for Fr 10,000, to Durand-Ruel); [Durand-Ruel, Paris, 1893–1906; stock no. 3122; sold on February 3, 1906 to Hébrard for Wagram]; Louis-Alexandre Berthier, prince de Wagram, Paris (1906–8); [possibly Durand-Ruel, Paris, 1908–at least 1909]; [Galerie Barbazanges, Paris, by 1912–13]; [Turner & Gardiner, London, 1913; sold on March 2, with "Cider" (MMA 26.46.1) for $28,000, to Quinn]; John Quinn, New York (1913–d. 1924; his estate 1924–26; sold to MMA; cat., 1926, p. 13)
Paris. Durand-Ruel. "Puvis de Chavannes," October–November 1894, no catalogue [see Riotor 1914 and Lemoine 2002].

New York. Durand-Ruel. "Paintings, Pastels and Decorations by M. Puvis de Chavannes," December 15–31, 1894, no. 5 (as "La Rivière [Project of decorative painting. For the Museum of Amiens]").

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. "Puvis de Chavannes," 1895, no. 4 [see Price 2010].

Geneva. Musée Rath. "L'Exposition d'œuvres de MM. P. Puvis de Chavannes, Auguste Rodin, Eugène Carrière," January 1896, no. 3 (as "La Rivière [panneau décoratif]").

Paris. Durand-Ruel. "Exposition de tableaux, esquisses & dessins de Puvis de Chavannes," June–July 1899, no. 26 (as "La Rivière," lent by MM. Durand-Ruel).

Berlin. Bruno and Paul Cassirer. "Austellung von Werken von Edouard Manet, H.-G. E. Degas, P. Puvis de Chavannes, Max Slevogt," October 15–December 1, 1899, no. 32 (as "Der Strom," probably this picture) [see Price 2010].

St. Petersburg. Institut Français. "Exposition centennale de l'art français," January 28–?, 1912, no. 504 (as "Grande esquisse pour le musée d'Amiens," lent by Barbazanges).

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. "The Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800–1920," February 4–May 6, 2007, no. 42.

Berlin. Neue Nationalgalerie. "Französische Meisterwerke des 19. Jahrhunderts aus dem Metropolitan Museum of Art," June 1–October 7, 2007, unnumbered cat.

Charles Yriarte. "Beaux-Arts: Six oeuvres de M. Puvis de Chavannes (Galerie Durand-Ruel)." Le Figaro (November 10, 1894), p. 1.

"Exposition de M. Puvis de Chavannes." La Chronique des arts (October 20, 1894), p. 252, as "La Rivière".

Paintings, Pastels and Decorations by M. Puvis de Chavannes. Exh. cat., Durand-Ruel Galleries. New York, 1894, p. 18, no. 5, dates it 1893.

Arsène Alexandre. Puvis de Chavannes. London, [1905], ill. p. 38, erroneously identifies it as the final Amiens decoration.

Roger Fry. Letter to Bryson Burroughs. March 31, 1909 [published in Denys Sutton, ed., "Letters of Roger Fry," vol. 1, New York, 1972, letter no. 263, p. 319], reports that this picture and "Cider" are available for purchase through Durand-Ruel.

François Monod. "L'Exposition centennale de l'art français à Saint-Pétersbourg (2e et dernier article)." Gazette des beaux-arts, 4th ser., 7 (April 1912), p. 323, calls it "Pêcheurs".

René Jean. L'Art français a Saint-Pétersbourg: Exposition centennale. Exh. cat.Paris, 1912, pp. 59–60, finds the landscape in this picture and its pendant reminiscent of Corot.

"Exhibition: One Hundred Years of French Painting 1812–1912." Apollon 3, part 1, no. 5 (1912), ill. between pp. 40 and 41.

James Huneker. Letter to John Quinn. March 13, 1913 [published in Josephine Huneker, ed., "Letters of James Gibbons Huneker," New York, 1922, p. 154], congratulates Quinn on the purchase of "the various Puvises".

Léon Riotor. Puvis de Chavannes. Paris, [1914], pp. 26, 66, calls it "la Pêche"; mentions that two decorative sketches called "le Cidre" and "la Pêche" were exhibited at Durand-Ruel in October–November 1894.

B[ryson]. B[urroughs]. "A Recent Loan of Paintings." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 10 (April 1915), p. 76, states that John Quinn has lent this picture to the MMA; describes it and "Cider" as studies for an 1865 decoration at the head of the stairway on the second floor in the Picardy Museum, Amiens, noting that the Amiens installation is one continuous landscape, intersected by a central doorway.

James Huneker. Ivory Apes and Peacocks. New York, 1915, p. 306, dates it 1866.

James Huneker. Letter to John Quinn. March 26, 1916 [published in Josephine Huneker, ed., "Letters of James Gibbons Huneker," New York, 1922, p. 206].

John Quinn, 1870–1925: Collection of Paintings, Water Colors, Drawings & Sculpture. Huntington, N.Y., 1926, p. 13.

Léon Werth. Puvis de Chavannes. Paris, 1926, p. 125, pl. 9.

Camille Mauclair. Puvis de Chavannes. Paris, 1928, p. 162, erroneously calls it a sketch for the left side of the Amiens decoration.

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. 225–27, ill., remark that this composition was originally incomplete at the lower right corner, corresponding to where the architectural elements in Amiens intruded on the actual decoration; note that this picture was finished and signed at a later date when it was no longer needed as a study and could be sold.

B[enjamin]. L[awrence]. Reid. The Man from New York: John Quinn and His Friends. New York, 1968, pp. 160–61, 197, 200, notes that Quinn paid $28,000 for this work and "Cider," making this his costliest purchase to date; erroneously states that it was shown in the 1900 Paris Exposition.

Richard J. Wattenmaker. Puvis de Chavannes and the Modern Tradition. Exh. cat., Art Gallery of Ontario. Toronto, 1975, pp. xxiv, 27–29, 58, 65.

Jacques Foucart-Borville. La Genèse des peintures murales de Puvis de Chavannes au Musée de Picardie. Amiens, 1976, pp. 58–61, fig. 14, dates it just before November 1864, suggesting that it was retouched in 1893.

Louise d'Argencourt in Puvis de Chavannes, 1824–1898. Exh. cat., Grand Palais, Paris. Ottawa, 1977, p. 64 [French ed., Paris, 1976, p. 67].

Judith Zilczer. "The Noble Buyer:" John Quinn, Patron of the Avant-Garde. Exh. cat., Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution. Washington, 1978, p. 179.

Brice Rhyne. "John Quinn: The New York 'Stein'." Artforum 17 (October 1978), p. 59, notes that Quinn specified this picture and its companion be offered for sale to the MMA after his death.

Aimée Brown Price. Pierre Puvis de Chavannes. Exh. cat., Van Gogh Museum. Amsterdam, 1994, p. 104, under no. 37.

Gary Tinterow. "Letters: The New Rooms at the Metropolitan Museum, New York." Burlington Magazine 136 (April 1994), p. 241.

Serge Lemoine, ed. From Puvis de Chavannes to Matisse and Picasso: Toward Modern Art. Exh. cat., Palazzo Grassi, Venice. [Milan], 2002, p. 547, figs. 1, 6 (color, overall and detail) and ill. p. 545.

Kathryn Calley Galitz in The Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800–1920. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. New York, 2007, pp. 64–65, 248, no. 42, ill. (color and black and white).

Kathryn Calley Galitz in Masterpieces of European Painting, 1800–1920, in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, pp. 74–75, 294, no. 69, ill. (color and black and white).

Aimée Brown Price. Pierre Puvis de Chavannes. Vol. 1, The Artist and His Art. New Haven, 2010, pp. 52, 222 n. 198.

Aimée Brown Price. Pierre Puvis de Chavannes. Vol. 2, A Catalogue Raisonné of the Painted Work. New Haven, 2010, pp. 99–100, 110, 302, no. 130, ill., calls it "La Rivière" or "Les Pêcheurs" or "Raccommodage des filets / The River"; dates it about 1864, noting that the mural dates from 1864–65; reproduces a drawing for the standing woman wringing her hair (private collection, Lyons); notes that the seated nude seen from the back reappears in "Fishing" (presumably destroyed; Price no. 139) and was replaced in the Amiens mural by the figure of an old woman; observes that the standing woman holding a child on the far left became the source for "Bresse" (about 1872; present location unknown; Price no. 325) and "Maternity" (about 1887; private collection, France; Price no. 324).

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