Musée d'Orsay: Paul Ranson Women in White

Paul Ranson
Women in White

Women in White
Paul Ranson (1861-1909) and Mrs Paul Ranson
Women in White
Circa 1895
Wool on canvas, needlepoint and petit point
H. 150; W. 98 cm
© DR- RMN-Grand Palais (musée d'Orsay)

Femmes en blanc [Women in White]

This tapestry was made by France Ranson-Rousseau, the cousin and wife of the decorator Paul Ranson, who designed the cartoon for it in 1892-1893. It belongs to the Art Nouveau style, developing a theme combining human beings and nature, femininity and fruit. The stylisation of the design and the flowing lines make it a modern Symbolist work.

The subject is vague and can be interpreted in various ways, as the apple on the ground and the vexed young woman sitting beside it may be an allusion to the biblical figure of Eve. But it could also be a profane domestic scene, ennobled by its treatment as a painting: the floral border forming the frame and the flowers in the background reminiscent of mediaeval tapestries. Women in White, also known as Women with Apples, is France Ranson's first needlepoint tapestry worked in wool on canvas in petit point. It figured in the exhibition of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts in 1894.

Paul Ranson produced many tapestry cartoons between 1890 and 1898. With his friends in the Nabi group, he clearly distinguished this art from painting by removing any pictorial or illusory effect. The decorative dimension of the tapestry then prevails.

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