The First Communion

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

Date: ca. 1896

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


A child’s first communion, or participation in the Christian Eucharist, the ritual consumption of consecrated bread and wine, marks a spiritual turning point. This painting and several others on the same subject have been associated with a religious triptych that Carrière created about 1897 (current location unknown). The muted palette, fluid brushwork, and simplified forms give a wraithlike aspect to the girl, enveloped in her white communion gown and veil.