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Reading the Story of Oenone, (painting)

Artist:
Millet, Francis D. b. 1846
Type:
Paintings
Exhibition Catalogs
Date:
1876
Notes:
Appears in exhibition catalog as entry no. 171
"b. Mattapoisett, Mass., 1846. Studied in the Royal Academy at Antwerp under Van Lerius and De Keyser, gaining the silver and gold medals of honor in 1872 and 1873. Has practised his profession in the United States, Belgium, England, Italy, France, and Austria. Was the American art juror at the Paris exposition of 1878, and has distinguished himself as a journalist both in America and Europe. At one time was the war correspondent of the London Daily News. " Reading the story of Oenone. Oenone, the daughter of Cebren, the river god, was a nymph of Mount Ida, and had the gift of prophecy. She told her husband, Paris, that a visit which he proposed to make to Greece would involve both himself and his country in ruin. Paris, however, made the visit, and becoming enamoured of Queen Helen, wife of Menelaus, King of Sparta, eloped with her. This brought about the Trojan War. When Paris was wounded by an arrow from the bow of Philocletes, he sent for his wife Oenone, who hastened to him, but too late. When the dead body of old Priam's son was laid at her feet, she stabbed herself. " Tennyson has written a poem on Oenone, in which he makes the deserted wife cry out her grief to 'Mother Ida,' the mountain on which she lived. Here is one despairing verse which is characteristic of the whole poem: 'o mother, hear me yet before i die./ . . . weigh heavy on my eyelids; let me die.' " There is also a poem by Professor Aytoun, a verse of which like manner reveals the grief of Oenone over the loss of Paris. " This picture, reading the story of Oenone was first exhibited in the National Academy last year; later it was one of the attractions of the art loan exhibition at Detroit. It became so popular there that it was purchased by the loan association as the nucleus of a permanent collection of paint- ings for the proposed Detroit museum of art. The following critical notice of the picture is from the Louisville Courier- Journal, of August 24, 1884: " the picture is a beautiful idealism; a symphony in delicate shades of pink and brown, judiciously harmonized with colors of a deeper, richer tone. Mr. Millet is an authority on classic drapery and costumes, and in this picture he has turned his knowledge to good account. Four women are seated on Grecian couches, or klinai, which are placed against the wall of the room. The central figure, the tallest and most commanding, reads the sad story of Oenone to the other three, who have assumed various attitudes of interest and attention. The two figures on the ends are draped each in a single transparent garment of pink; that on the right is a more delicate shade of pink, finely relieved by the purple, gold-embroidered cushions on which the woman's arm rests. . . . She who reads the story to the others, sitting noble, erect, her brows and hair bound with the flowering laurel, might be a type for pallas; her dark eyes flash and melt as she tells the tale. Next to her sits one whose grace and rapt attention suggest that she might almost be the 'beautiful-browed Oenone,' . . . the woman on the extreme left is also listening intently to the reader. . . . though these three women all differ in type and expression, the girl on the right of the picture is still further removed from the others in space and sentiment. . . ." [P. 38-39; excerpted from two-page commentary on picture. Ten lines from the poem by Tennyson, and much of the Louisville Courier article, have not been reproduced in this serial.]
Illustrated Catalogue of Works of Art in the Art Building of the Southern Exposition at Louisville, Ky. August 16 - October 25, 1884. Prepared by Charles M. Kurtz, Director of the Art Department. Editor of National Academy Notes and the Art Union Magazine. Published for the Art Committee by John P. Morton and Company.
Artist address: New York, New York.
Topic:
Literature--Tennyson--Oenone
Literature--Poetry
Dress--Historic--Classical Dress
Figure group--Female
Recreation--Leisure--Reading
State of Being--Other--Repose
Control number:
AECI 03860171
Data Source:
Pre-1877 Art Exhibition Catalogue Index

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