“Graziella” by Lefebvre

by Matthew Raley

"Graziella," Jules-Joseph Lefebvre, 1878, Metropolitan Museum of Art
"Graziella," Jules-Joseph Lefebvre, 1878, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Here is something thoroughly beautiful to start the week. I know nothing of the heroine depicted in the painting, other than that she was the subject of an obscure 19th century novel by French statesman Alphonse de Lamartine.

But the painting speaks for itself. The brooding atmosphere is set by Mt. Vesuvius smoldering in the background. One wonders what the girl is meditating upon — not her fishing net, clearly. The whole composition is elegant and finished, right down the detail of the red petals under the girl’s toes answering the petals in her hair.

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