Mar 29, 2007



c. 1771

Jean Bernard Restout

(French, 1732–1797)

Oil on canvas

Framed: 127.5 x 160 x 14 cm (50 3/16 x 63 x 5 1/2 in.); Unframed: 97.6 x 130 cm (38 7/16 x 51 3/16 in.)

Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund 1963.502

Did you know?

A source of inspiration for this painting was probably the Roman poet Ovid's Metamorphoses, which describes the god of sleep as living in a cave with sleep-inducing poppies at the entrance.


The tradition of painting nude male figures in a studio setting was the cornerstone of artistic practice, teaching artists to depict the human body in complex poses in order to create larger narratives. However, by the late 1700s, some artists began to see these studies as independent works of art. By adding the wings and the poppies, Restout transformed his study into a more specific subject, and he first exhibited the work in a privately organized exhibition in 1783 under the title of Morpheus, the god of sleep.

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