“With an expression of happy trust a girl looks over her right shoulder, which has escaped from the folds of a loose white gown. The dark brown hair is neatly dressed over a beautifully modelled neck; her eyes are large and earnest, and the cheeks round with youth and health.”
For an artist as prolific and accomplished as Cavé, remarkably little is known of his biography. Born in Paris, by 1877 he had entered the Académie Julian in Paris joining the ranks of a generation of European and American artists influenced by its teachers, most notably Bouguereau. After leaving the Académie it seems Cavé and Bougeureau remained close, as in the late 1880s the artist wrote to his daughter Henriette of attending a dinner in celebration of Cavé’s wedding (Damien Bartoli and Frederic C. Ross, William Bouguereau, His Life and Work, New York, 2014, p. 316).
Though the artist won several medals at the Salon exhibiting religious and allegorical works in the Academic tradition, the hallmark of his production are compositions exemplified by Portrait of a Young Girl, which maintain a strong association in style, subject, and sensibility to the celebrated works of his teacher. While he carefully renders his models’ likeness (many recognizable from one composition to the next) he also conveys a specific, tender emotion. There is a timelessness to Cavé's compositions, and the smooth brushwork erases the presence of the painter and creates a balance between immobile, static form and rich surface details, textures, and color.
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