The painting "The Poor Fisherman" by Puvis de Chavannes (1824-1843) was subject to harsh critics at the 1881 Salon. The work is certainly an esthetic shock. In the foreground, a fisherman prays, standing in his boat. Miserable, with a Christ-like face, he is most likely a widower. His two children are left to their own devices on the shore behind him. The simplistic landscape, the reduced colors, and the gray expanse representing the sea accentuate the feeling of deprivation and melancholy.
Far from academic conventions, Puvis de Chavannes represents misery in a painting with the dimensions of a history painting. Contrary to the impressionists, he did not study nature in the field. He sketched and simplified his drawing to better translate an interior vision, an original language, which would mark out young, avantgarde artists, such as Gauguin.


  • Title: Le Pauvre Pêcheur (The Poor Fisherman), 1881
  • Creator: Pierre Puvis de Chavannes
  • Creator Lifespan: 1824/1843
  • Creator Nationality: masculin
  • Creator Gender: masculin
  • Creator Death Place: Neuilly-sur-Marne, France
  • Creator Birth Place: Lyon, France
  • Physical Dimensions: 155,5 x 192,5 cm
  • Provenance: 1887, acquis de l'artiste par l'Etat français pour le musée du Luxembourg lors de l'exposition Puvis de Chavannes de la galerie Durand-Ruel
  • Subject Keywords: pêcheur, barque, prière, religion, enfant, pauvreté, scène, cueillette, fleur, bord de mer, mer, nudité, paysage, scène de genre, figure, femme, agenouillé
  • Type: Peinture
  • Original Source: Paris, musée d'Orsay
  • Rights: Photo RMN-Grand Palais (musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski
  • External Link: Musée d'Orsay, Paris, Agence Photo Rmn-GP
  • Medium: Huile sur toile

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