Maurice Denis
A Game of Shuttlecock

A Game of Shuttlecock
Maurice Denis (1870-1943)
A Game of Shuttlecock
1900
Oil on canvas
H. 127; W. 301 cm
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Thierry Le Mage

Jeu de volant [A Game of Shuttlecock]


Under trees with mauve trunks, shuttlecock players, who gave the painting its name, are mingled with women picking flowers and bathers in the background. Whether the models are dressed and involved in a contemporary sporting activity, badminton, or nude like timeless nymphs, the scene has the feeling of an unreal idyll. The rhythm of the trunks and the network of branches, which echoes the movement of the rackets, remind us that this large painting is a décor. Maurice Denis painted it for Etienne Moreau-Nélaton, an eminent collector and generous donor to French museums. The artist prepared his composition with an overall sketch, the title of which, The Sacred Wood, admirably sums up the atmosphere of the final painting and recalls Maurice Denis' debt to Puvis de Chavannes, the painter of The Sacred Wood Dear to the Arts and the Muses, now in the Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lyon.




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