The model for the sleeping figure in this painting is Bunny’s wife, Jeanne. They had met in 1895 and married in 1902. She would become his principal model, her graceful form and sensuous features repeated in numerous works and embodying Bunny’s feminine ideal. From the turn of the century Bunny increasingly depicted groups of female figures, often shown relaxing, dreaming, dressing or undressing by expanses of water. In this work Bunny has included a red rose, traditionally a symbol of love and sensuous power, as well as a white swan, symbolic of grace and beauty and a recurring motif of Belle Époque culture. The small dog is often used by artists to symbolise marital fidelity.

Text © National Gallery of Victoria, Australia


  • Title: Endormies
  • Creator: Rupert Bunny
  • Date Created: (c. 1904)
  • Location Created: Paris, France
  • Physical Dimensions: 130.6 x 200.5 cm (Unframed)
  • Type: Paintings
  • Rights: National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Felton Bequest, 1911, =A9 National Gallery of Victoria
  • External Link: National Gallery of Victoria
  • Medium: oil on canvas
  • Place Part Of: France
  • Additional information: No other Australian expatriate artist of his generation enjoyed the same reputation in Paris as Rupert Bunny. Born in Melbourne in 1864, Bunny studied at the National Gallery School before leaving Australia in 1884. Bunny was to spend almost 50 years in Europe, the majority in Paris, where his Symbolist inspired mythological and religious paintings brought him early critical acclaim. After the turn of the century, his graceful Belle Époque images of Parisian leisure became his most celebrated works. In 1904 he became the first Australian to have his work purchased by the French State, the highest honour for a living artist and, in the same year, Bunny was elected an associate of the New Salon, the first of several such appointments which consolidated his standing within the Parisian art world.

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