"Le Daphnis et La Chloe", 1881
oil on canvas
signed and dated lower left.
61" x 81-1/2", framed 75-3/4" x 96"
Provenance: Sotheby's, New York, April 25, 2006, lot 53.
Exhibited: Salon, Paris, 1881, no. 1983; Exposition des Beaux-Arts, Lille, 1881, no. 1112.
Literature: "Salon de 1881". Le Musee artistique et litteraire: revue illustree. Paris: Typographie Charles Unsinger, 1881, p. 406; Manson, R. H. The Paris-Salon, 1881.... London. Edward Stanford, 1881, p. 58 (room 31).
Notes: Gaston Renault was an accomplished realist painter trained in the 19th century canon of the French Academy, which privileged classically drawn figures executed in mythological and historical genre scenes over the avant-garde experimentation of the Romantics and later Impressionists. Renault studied with Tony Robert Fleury, a professor at the Academie Julien; Leon Bonnat, a professor at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts; and with William-Adolphe Bougereau, one of the penultimate proponents of French academic painting and president of the Societe des artistes francais. Renault debuted at the 1880 Salon to wide acclaim, which was quickly followed in 1881 with this epic painting of "Daphnis and Chloe." Executed with the finesse of Bougereau, it is a modern interpretation of a Classical pastoral that celebrates the beauty of the human form with particular emphasis paid to the female figure- the elongated and idealized torso through subtle linear modelling is executed with a controlled palette of porcelain-like ivory and tertiary hues of viridian and taupe. The contemporary visages and hair-styles, together with Daphnis' straw hat, contemporize the piece which critics immediately noted. In numerous Salon reviews, the 2nd century Greek pastoral was hailed a modern day Parisian love story of young bohemians from the Faubourg in which "love laughs in their naÃƒÂ¯ve eyes; they are of elegance" beyond sin.
Reference: Le MusÃƒÂ©e artistique et littÃƒÂ©raire: revue illustrÃƒÂ©e. Typographie Paris: Charles Unsinger, 1881.