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Lady Reading the Letters of Heloise and Abelard

A work made of oil on canvas.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of oil on canvas.

Date:

c. 1780

Artist:

Auguste Bernard d’Agesci (French, 1756–1829)

About this artwork

This painting depicts a young woman lost in reverie after reading the letters of the ill-fated medieval lovers Heloise and Abelard. The objects on the table beside her—a letter, a sheet of music, and a book of erotic poetry—hint at a life of leisure and a susceptibility to love. In this early picture, Auguste Bernard drew upon history paintings by Peter Paul Rubens and Charles Le Brun, as well as Parisian traditions of genre painting and portraiture pioneered by Jean-Baptiste Greuze. Bernard worked in Paris in the early 1780s and studied in Italy for several years. Upon his return to Paris, he found his career frustrated by the French Revolution and the emergent fashion for the more austere Neoclassical style.

Status

On View, Gallery 216

Department

Painting and Sculpture of Europe

Artist

Auguste Bernard, called Bernard d'Agesci

Title

Lady Reading the Letters of Heloise and Abelard

Place

France (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

1770–1790

Medium

Oil on canvas

Inscriptions

Inscribed on the leaves of the open book: HELOISE, ABEL; on the spine of the closed book: LART / DAIME / DE / BERNA

Dimensions

81.3 × 64.8 cm (32 × 25 1/2 in.); Framed: 105.5 × 89.9 × 11.5 cm (41 1/2 × 35 3/8 × 4 1/2 in.)

Credit Line

Mrs. Harold T. Martin Fund; Lacy Armour Endowment; Charles H. and Mary F.S. Worcester Collection

Reference Number

1994.430

IIIF Manifest  The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) represents a set of open standards that enables rich access to digital media from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions around the world.

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https://api.artic.edu/api/v1/artworks/133859/manifest.json

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.

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