About This Artwork

Anne-Louis Girodet de Roucy-Trioson
French, 1767-1824

Fingal Mourning Over the Body of Malvina, from Ossian's Berrathon, c. 1810

Black chalk with brush and black ink and brown wash, heightened with white gouache, on ivory laid paper prepared with a gray wash
184 x 257 mm

Gift of Celia and David Hilliard in honor of Jay Clarke, 2006.412

The dazzling, otherworldly, glow-in-the-dark effect Girodet achieved in this drawing is a testament to his extraordinary skill as a draftsman and painter, and to his all-consuming desire to be original. Girodet illustrates a scene from a poem purportedly written by the ancient Scottish bard, Ossian, whose work was “discovered” and published in the 1760s. A famous literary hoax, the poems took Europe by storm. Here, Ossian’s father Fingal stands before the body of the dead Malvina, while her spirit ascends from the moonlit water behind him. Above Malvina’s body, spirits sparkle like stars.

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