When Pierre Puvis de Chavannes' Dream was presented at the Salon des Artistes Français in 1883, the catalogue described its subject as: The Dream! "Love, Glory and Wealth appear to him in his sleep".
On a clear moonlit night, a young man, probably a traveller as the bundle at his side suggests, has fallen asleep by a tree. Three young women come to him in a dream, flying though the starry sky: the first, with roses in her hands, suggests Love, the second is brandishing the laurel wreath of Glory, while the third is strewing the coins of Fortune. The landscape is sketched in with a great economy of means. The shapes are highly simplified and painted in broad zones of solid colour.
Puvis de Chavannes used a narrow range of muted colours brightened only by the crescent moon. In this easel painting, he has applied the plastic language of the large decorative compositions for which he was renowned.
Etienne Moreau-Nélaton, a great admirer of Puvis de Chavannes, bought The Dream in 1899. It was part of the collector's generous donation to the national museums in 1906.