A naturalistic work

A naturalistic work

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Title: Manda Lamétrie, farmer.

Author : ROLL Alfred (1846 - 1919)

Creation date : 1887

Date shown: 1887

Dimensions: Height 124.5 - Width 161

Technique and other indications: Oil on canvas

Storage location: Orsay Museum website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - G. Blot / H. Lewandowskisite web

Picture reference: 91DE209 / RF 525

Manda Lamétrie, farmer.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - G. Blot / H. Lewandowski

Publication date: March 2016

Historical context

When the artist distances himself from the official or commissioned portrait, as here he can elevate a harmless portrait to the rank of an icon and turn an unknown peasant woman into a symbol. Raising a horse and three cows, living off shrimp fishing on the coast and watching over second homes, she remained single and lived

until the end of his days in the center of this small village.

Image Analysis

Exhibited at the Salon des Artistes Français in 1888, this painting was immediately purchased by the State for the Musée du Luxembourg. The description given in official publications was particularly laconic: "Young peasant girl, with hair, bare arms and shoulders, advancing head-on into an orchard. She holds in her right hand a tin bucket filled with milk. Gray ticking corset, gray petticoat, heavy linen apron, heavy shoes. Behind her, across, a light-colored cow. On each side, a small tree. In the background, behind a hedge, trees and brush, and, on the right, a building. Clear and white sky in the morning. "(Ten years of the Salon of painting and sculpture, Paris, 1889, p. 128). But the canvas aroused a wave of rave reviews which even earned it the title of "painting of the year" in an article by A. Michel, a collaborator of the very respectable and renowned Gazette of Fine Arts (June 1888, p. 443-444).


Naturalism, which marked painting at the end of the 1880s, borrows its clear palette from the Impressionist movement but retains a more classical aesthetic approach. He passionately invests in modern and contemporary subjects and, under the sometimes anecdotal representation of beings and their occupations, deliberately endeavors to translate the social destiny of models. Roll's painting is fundamentally situated in this documentary perspective dear to Zola: the monumentality and frontality of the young woman rendered with a vigorous brush, the voluntary absence of picturesque, participate in the construction of a social portrait of France. contemporary. Far from the artifices of Jean-François Millet or the melancholy poetry of Bastien-Lepage, they offer this sincere translation of the reality that the Third Republic wanted, attached to the support of the rural masses.

  • naturalism
  • peasants
  • portrait
  • agricultural work
  • rural life
  • campaign


Collective Landscapes, peasants: art and land in Europe from the Middle Ages to the 20th century Paris, National Library, 25 March-26 June 1994 Gabriel P.WEISBERG Beyond Impressionism: the naturalist impulse New York, Harry N. Abrams, 1992.

To cite this article

Dominique LOBSTEIN, "A naturalist work"

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