Old Italian Woman by Theodore Gericault (1791-1824)Original Source: Le Havre, musée des Beaux-Arts André Malraux
Lassitude and melancholy are clear to see in the eyes of long-suffering people who are isolated in their sadness and often have an empty look in their eyes.
Peasant Family in an Interior (17th Century) by Louis Le Nain (1600/1610-1648), musée du LouvreOriginal Source: Paris, musée du Louvre
Le Nain's exhausted peasants appear just as gloomy as the earthy colors used by the painter.
Pierrot, formerly known as Gilles (18th Century) by Antoine Watteau (1684-1721), musée du LouvreOriginal Source: Paris, musée du Louvre
Watteau's Pierrot stands motionless and awkward in his white suit as if lost in thought, his mind somewhere far away.
Napoléon at Fontainebleau, 31 March 1814, painted in 1840 (19th Century) by Paul Delaroche (1797-1856)Original Source: Agence photo de la Réunion des musées nationaux-Grand Palais
Yet melancholy can affect all social classes and in no way spares the greats of our world.
Delaroche depicted Napoleon on the eve of his fall, slumped on a chair, despondent, with the weight of fate heavy on his shoulders. As he recalls past glories, his eyes suggest his disappointment and disenchantment.
In a Cafe, also called 'Absinthe' (19th Century) by Edgar Degas, born Hilaire-Germain-Edgar De Gas (1834-1917), Paris, musée d'OrsayOriginal Source: Paris, musée d'Orsay
In L’Absinthe, Degas uses an off-center composition to highlight the unease and isolation felt by a long-suffering woman with a blank look.
Portrait of Dr. Gachet (1828-1909) (19th Century) by Vincent Willem van Gogh (1853-1890), Paris, musée d'OrsayOriginal Source: Paris, Orsay Museum
Van Gogh's bright colors and dynamic diagonal composition are not enough to conceal the melancholy seizing Dr. Gachet.
We would like to thank:
- For design, illustrations, writing, and coordination of the RMN-Grand Palais project: Cécile Maisonneuve (Doctor of Art History, Policy Officer, Scientific Council), Nathalie Gathelier (National Museums Speaker), Annie Madec (Iconographer), Françoise Lombardi-Peissel (Project Manager) at RMN-Grand Palais.
- For reproductions: French museum collections represented by the Photo Agency of the Réunion des musées nationaux-Grand Palais:
Montpellier, Musée Fabre; Versailles, Musée Lambinet; Lille, Palais des Beaux-Arts; Paris, The Louvre; Paris, Centre Pompidou (Musée National d'Art Moderne - Centre de Création Industrielle).