Musée d'Orsay: Henri Martin Serenity

Henri Martin

Henri Martin (1860-1943)
Oil on canvas
H. 347; W. 544 cm
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Jean-Pierre Lagiewski

Sérénité [Serenity]

Presented at the Salon de la Société des Artistes Français in 1899, this monumental canvas depicts the Elysium Fields that the Latin poet Virgil spoke of in his Aeneid. It shows the happy souls that fate has led towards felicity being guided by angel musicians to Arcadia, the land of calm, serene happiness.

Behind the Symbolist idea which infuses the scene lies an attempt at the aesthetic synthesis of the most recent artistic trends. Indeed, the allusive brush stroke, clearly differentiated, is taken from the Naturalist movement which in turn borrowed it from Impressionism. In the process, however, it has lost its role of exalting light and become merely a means of making the paint vibrate. Henri Martin, who painted this picture, produced many similar works on canvas or as decorations. He was sharply criticised by Degas, among others, who considered that Martin and his followers "were flying with our own wings", that is, using the new techniques that Impressionism had offered painting.

Enlarge font size Reduce font size Tip a friend Print