Woman at the Spinet

Woman at the Spinet

1860

François Bonvin

(French, 1817-1887)

Fabricated black chalk with touches of brown and red chalk and stumping

Support: Tan laid paper

Sheet: 42 x 30.5 cm (16 9/16 x 12 in.)

Bequest of Muriel Butkin 2010.166

Description

The subject of the woman at the piano was a recurrent theme in Bonvin’s oeuvre. The pianist depicted here was likely Céline Prunaire, a 21-year-old musician who married the much older artist in 1860. Although the meticulously rendered composition celebrates the grace and propriety of the young woman, the happiness of the couple’s union was fleeting. Prunaire left the artist after fewer than three years, never to return. The pink carnation at her feet suggests a note of foreboding to the image, perhaps intended to allude to the ephemeral nature of music and sentimental bonds.

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