Reduced version of the 1861 painting in the Musée de Picardie, Amiens; companion to War in the John G. Johnson Collection, Philadelphia Museum of Art (Cat. 1063), and the paintings Work and Rest, in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, French, 1824 - 1898

Made in France, Europe


Oil on canvas

42 7/8 × 58 1/2 inches (108.9 × 148.6 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Painting

* Special Exhibition Galleries, first floor (Dorrance Galleries)

Accession Number:
Cat. 1062

Credit Line:
John G. Johnson Collection, 1917

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This painting depicts the societal advantages of peace played out in an idyllic landscape, where antique figures rest or engage in pleasant tasks, milking goats or collecting fruit. The image of bounty is drawn from descriptions in Virgil’s fourth Eclogue of a golden age, a harmonious future when “unbidden, the goats will bring home their udders swollen with milk.” This is a reduced version of a much larger picture from Puvis’s first public mural project, which comprised four allegories of human states—including War, Work, and Repose—acquired by the French government to decorate the Musée de Napoléon in Amiens, France.

Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    By the end of the nineteenth century, Pierre Puvis de Chavannes was among the best known and most praised French artists. The fame of his murals made him a great public figure, with all the association with convention this implies. Over time this "official" persona obscured Puvis's truly innovative contributions. With Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot he was at the foundation of French progressive painting, distancing himself from his subjects through poetic homogenization in a way that would attract Paul Cézanne, and introducing the harmonious and blurred pictorial effect that would profoundly influence Paul Gauguin and the Symbolists. This is one of two companion paintings that are reduced versions of Puvis's large murals shown first in 1861. The historical vagueness of the subjects is intentional: the other painting, War, takes place in some general Northern Druidic/Gallic time, while Peace seems to move closer to the Mediterranean and a golden age of eternal youth. Through his tremendously subtle and understated use of color and ability to retain a graceful unity within a complex design, Puvis lifted decorative painting to a new level. Joseph J. Rishel, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 191.

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