Pierre Puvis de Chavannes
(Lyon, 1824-1898, Paris)
Concordia, ca. 1861
Oil on canvas, 76 x 95 cm
Inscribed & signed lower left: à Madame E. Gautier son ami P. Puvis de Chavannes

Puvis de Chavannes’ development was hardly determined by the brief and fleeting instruction received from Henri Scheffer, Eugène Delacroix and Thomas Couture. He has as little in common with the older Courbet and the Naturalists as with the younger Pissarro and the Impressionists, even though he admires their uncompromising battle for their ideals. Puvis de Chavannes’ work is like a bridge over the painting of his age, its piers being his friendship with Chassériau and the admiration which Seurat and Gauguin paid him. The influence of Ingres via Chassériau is what scores his first success, in the Salon of 1861 with "War" and "Peace", after nine years of rejection. "Peace" is purchased by the State and ends up in the Museum of Amiens, inspiring the later murals in the staircase. "Concordia" is the first sketch for "Peace": the warriors have laid aside their weapons, they repose in the Elysian landscape beneath flowering laurels, refreshed by fruits and milk. The radiant white in the garb of the female figure in the background triumphs over the red of the warriors’ cloaks against the deep green landscape. In "Peace" the garbed female figure is replaced by a nude figure, on which all the light converges. Théophile Gautier, Chassériau’s friend, enthusiastically greeted Chavannes’ presence with this picture in the Salon of 1861. That is probably also why "Concordia" bears a dedication to Madame Gautier.