Executed around 1864-65, our painting is a study for the right part of his first large wall painting Ave Picardia Nutrix, set in the main staircase of the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Amiens. Every gesture and position was studied carefully in several sketches and drawings. Our study differs from the final version completed in 1865. Bathers were a common subject matter in nineteenth-century painting, such as Chassériau's Vénus Anadyomène from 1838 that the painter had been able to admire at the Louvre.
Puvis de Chavannes painted an innocent Arcadia, a leitmotive in his work. A whole generation of painters will be influenced by his style, very personal and modern. For instance, Matisse pays homage to his style in Luxe, Calme et Volupté (Musée Georges Pompidou, Paris): the young woman on the right is reminiscent of the female nude standing in our painting (see illustration below).
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