The Shepherd's Song

Artist: Pierre Puvis de Chavannes (French, Lyons 1824–1898 Paris)

Date: 1891

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 41 1/8 x 43 1/4 in. (104.5 x 109.9 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1906

Accession Number: 06.177


Puvis adapted this scene from an earlier mural portraying the origin of the arts in antiquity, which he made for the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lyons. Instead of presenting a straightforward narrative, the current painting emphasizes a dreamy, lyrical mood. The costumes and calm, static gestures derive from ancient statuary and relief sculptures, while the minimal modeling, simplified contours, and pale, chalky colors reflect the artist’s study of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Italian frescoes. Puvis’s work inspired younger artists eager for alternatives to Impressionism, including Paul Gauguin and Georges Seurat.