Throwback Thursdays Art – w/ Update!

Throwback Thursdays Art – w/ Update!

Every Thursday, as part of my personal “enriched environment” initiative, I post a piece of art, usually from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which recently released online some 400,000 high-resolution images of its collection.  All artwork will show a sun (or sunlight) somewhere. 

I won’t name the piece or the artist, but instead invite you to study the art and post a comment addressing one or more of these questions:

  • What is going on in this picture?
  • What do you see that makes you say that?
  • What more can you find?

If you have another idea, run with it.

Special Update!  The New York Times website does this same exercise every Monday with a news photo that is uncaptioned and contains no text (click!).  The Times asks viewers the same three questions:

  • What is going on in this picture?
  • What do you see that makes you say that?
  • What more can you find?

However, at the end of the week, the Times posts the background information on the picture.  So, I’ve decided to do the same.  I’ll still post an unlabeled piece of art on Thursday.  But return on Sunday (for the Sunny Sundays post!) and you’ll find an update on the artwork here.

Note:  To embiggen the image, click on it! 


Artist:  Pierre Puvis de Chavannes (French, Lyons 1824–1898 Paris)

Date:  ca. 1864

Medium:  Oil on paper, laid down on canvas

Dimensions:  51 x 99 1/4 in. (129.5 x 252.1 cm)

Classification:  Drawings


On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 800

Cider and The River (26.46.2) are studies for the left and right sides, respectively, of Puvis’s mural Ave Picardia nutrix (Hail, Picardy the Nourisher), commissioned for the newly-constructed Musée de Picardie in Amiens in 1864. The artist described the design as “France’s salute to the dawn of one of the country’s richest provinces.” Both studies are considerably reworked, revealing the development of his conception. The pressing of apples in Cider evokes the fecundity of the land, and The River celebrates water, with men building a bridge across the Somme as women bathe and mend fishing nets.

About The Author: Bruce


  1. Chris Tempe

    This is a strange painting in many ways. It has a slapdash, unfinished look to it, as if this were merely a study for another more detailed painting that will come along later. The faces often lack details, for example.

    At first I thought that was a wine press in the back on the left, but then I see what looks like apples or tomatoes in some of the baskets in the foreground. Are they making spaghetti sauce?

    Do you have to be nude to grind up tomatoes for spaghetti sauce?

    And do you have to be nude to work on scaffolding in the upper right corner?

    Those must have been interesting times.

    The sun, by the way, is off screen on the left.

  2. Holly

    Where is this place? The thatched-roofed housing appears to be elevated on stilts. Why is that? Because of flooding? Because it keeps dangerous animals from entering your abode? Because it’s cooler and the climate in general is scorching hot?

    And when did this scene take place? Did men really work in the nude there and then?

    Everyone seems robust and healthy.

  3. Diana

    What gets me about this painting is its lackluster colors. It’s mostly gray and brown and what I’d call smoky red. Even though there are many people doing things in this painting, it lacks vibrancy. But the scene has many interesting parts to study, like the general location of colors. On the left and right side of the painting, the environment and the people are dark. THe people either have dark skin or dark clothes or both. But the people in the center foreground are whiter in skin tone and clothing, and the ground practically glows with light. Tha’s very curious and I wonder if it was the artist’s intention. You don’t notice it at first, but then it hits you. And among all the bright whiteness you have that deep blue skirt.
    I agree with the previous comment that this picture seems unfinished, like for example some of the faces lack features, but I also think there was a lot of planning about the placement of light and color.

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