Here’s a painting I’ve cherished since the very first time I saw it at the Metropolitan Museum of Art some 20 years ago.
Image courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Artist: Pierre-Auguste Cot (French, Bédarieux 1837–1883 Paris)
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 92 1/4 x 61 3/4 in. (234.3 x 156.8 cm)
Credit Line: Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Collection, Bequest of Catharine Lorillard Wolfe, 1887
Accession Number: 87.15.134
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 827
When Cot exhibited this painting at the Salon of 1880, critics speculated about the source of the subject. Some proposed the French novel Paul and Virginie by Bernardin de Saint-Pierre (1737–1814), in which the teenage protagonists run for shelter in a rainstorm, using the heroine’s overskirt as an impromptu umbrella; others suggested the romance Daphnis and Chloe by the ancient Greek writer Longus. New York collector and Metropolitan Museum benefactor Catharine Lorillard Wolfe commissioned the work under the guidance of her cousin John Wolfe, one of Cot’s principal patrons. Like the artist’s earlier Springtime (2012.575), it was immensely popular and extensively reproduced.