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The Contemplator

The Contemplator

1901

Eugène Carrière

(French, 1849-1906)

Oil on fabric

Framed: 47.6 x 57.2 x 5.1 cm (18 3/4 x 22 1/2 x 2 in.); Unframed: 33.6 x 41 cm (13 1/4 x 16 1/8 in.)

In memory of Ralph King, gift of Mrs. Ralph King; Ralph T. Woods, Charles G. King; and Frances King Schafer 1946.283

Fun Fact

In this painting Carrière captures the atmosphere of Victor Hugo's poems through his expressive brushstrokes and monochromatic palette. The artist's monochrome paintings influenced Picasso and his Blue Period works.

Description

This painting illustrating Victor Hugo's poem Boaz Sleeping is one of five images Carrière created to commemorate the centennial of Hugo's birth. A reclining poet gazes at the stars above, as if in a dream, placing one hand over his heart and gesturing toward a crescent moon. The moon was thought to exert a special influence on poets and artists, inspiring not only creativity but darker thoughts of melancholy and suicide.

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