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Between and Mortarboard

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Sara la Baigneuse

Accession Number

Sara la Baigneuse

Henri Fantin-Latour

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
pen, brush and brown ink, heightened with white on off-white wove paper

12 13/16 in. x 10 in. ( 32.6 cm x 25.4 cm )

Credit Line
Museum Purchase

Label copy
Henri Fantin-Latour
France, 1836–1904
Sara la Baigneuse
Pen, brush and brown ink, heightened with white
Museum purchase, 1962/1.115
Fantin depicted this subject many times in various media over the course of his career. From notations in the margins of some of these versions, it seems that the artist’s immediate source were two choral works by composer Hector Berlioz (1803–1869), who himself had been inspired by a poem cycle by the Romantic writer Victor Hugo (1802–1885). In a poem of the same title, Hugo describes the “indolent beauty,” who swings on a hammock while languorously dreaming away the day.
Perhaps better known for his realistic portraits and still-lifes, Fantin’s images of Sara satisfy another side to his art, reflecting emotive and imaginative qualities, which were inspired by Fantin’s love of music and opera. As one critic wrote upon seeing one of Fantin’s images of Sara, “…we feel most the ideal, the poetry, the absence of vivid colours that give life to things making room for black and white, which convey dream so well.”

Subject matter
This drawing depicts the subject of a poem by Victor Hugo (1802-1885) titled, "Sara la Baigneuse" (Sarah the Bather). Hector Berlioz also composed a choral work inspired by this poem in 1834.

Physical Description
A dark pen drawing with white highlights on a white colored background. It shows a nude female figure seated on a swing. The setting is a wooded area with vegetation and leaves depicted with multiple short strokes that cover the entire area around the figure. The woman is posed facing the viewer with her legs intertwined and her arms above her head, grasping th ropes of the swing. She is gazing out to the left, beyond the viewer and has a joyful expression on her face.

Primary Object Classification

Collection Area

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curtains (window hangings)
nudes (representations)
women (female humans)

1 Related Resource

Exploring Gender and Sexuality
(Part of 6 Learning Collections)

& Author Notes

All Rights Reserved

On display