Musée d'Orsay: Paul Huet The Abyss, Landscape

Paul Huet
The Abyss, Landscape

The Abyss, Landscape
Paul Huet (1803-1869)
The Abyss, Landscape
Oil on canvas
H. 125; W. 212 cm
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

Le gouffre, paysage [The Abyss, Landscape]

Paul Huet, who often described the terrifying face of nature in views of gigantic waves or infernal stormy skies, has here shown the earth gaping open as in a landscape of the Flood. The elements are unleashed, the wind rages, the horses rear in fright while the no less terrified rider, clad in a costume from another age, sounds the depths of the mysterious abyss.

The Abyss, Landscape, like all Paul Huet's canvases, was the fruit of a slowly matured idea triggered by a keen experience of the spectacle of nature, here the rocks and trees of the Forest of Fontainebleau. Yet we are far removed from the faithfully transcribed landscapes of the Barbizon School. This painting is a superb example of the Romantic vein – which was already outmoded in 1861. It can be seen as the allegory of an ageing painter, ill, tormented and henceforth misunderstood.

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