Oil on linen
The Putnam Dana McMillan Fund
- Review the story of Orpheus and Eurydice.
Where is Orpheus in this painting?
just right of center.
How do you know?
He's playing a musical instrument called a lyre.
Where is Eurydice in this painting?
Middleground, left of center, kneeling under an arched hedge.
How do you know?
She is separated from others by a green arch.
Does Denis give us any clues about what will happen to these lovers?
The colors and mood of the picture do not seem to hint of the sad ending of the story. Perhaps Eurydice's position under green foliage
while all other figures lounge on top of the green lawn suggests her Underworld fate?
- What colors did Denis use in this painting? Name them.
White, green, purple, brown, and blue.
What do green, purple, and blue have in common?
They all contain the color blue!
Rather than use colors as they would appear in nature, Denis used colors as
to create a personal statement. What kind of feelings do you think Denis wanted to suggest with this picture? Loud? Quiet? Happy? Angry? Excited?
- The FOREGROUND
in a painting is the space closest to the viewer, the
is the space below the horizon line, and the
is very near the horizon line and/or above it.
What do you see in the foreground of this painting?
Two reclining female figures.
What do you see in the middleground?
Green lawn, more figures.
What do you see in the background?
Figures and trees.
What common elements unite the foreground, middleground, and background in this painting by appearing in all three places?
Figures, curved lines, and color.
Beginning with the two reclining women in the
follow with your eyes the ring of figures surrounding Orpheus.
Roll over the image to see the ring of figures with an open spot from Orpheus and Eurydice
Is there an open spot for you to join this group? Where?
Right lower corner.
- Maurice Denis was associated with a group of artists called the
The Symbolists sought an ideal synthesis of all the arts - visual arts, music, poetry, theater.
Why do you think Denis would be interested in the story of Orpheus and Eurydice?
Orpheus represents the supreme power of music and poetry to enchant all natural things.
- Denis believed that color, line, and form had musical qualities and could convey a sense of rhythm and harmony. He used these principles
when he painted Orpheus and Eurydice. What kinds of music do you suppose inspired Denis when he made this painting? Jazz? Opera? Polka?
Explain your answer. How would you represent your favorite music in an image?
- Denis believed that a truly harmonious painting was one that achieved a balance between nature and the imagination. What would Denis's
painting look like if he had believed that nature is more important than imagination? What would it look like if imagination had played a
more important role?