Puvis de Chavannes was widely admired in his day for the grandeur and decorative subtlety of his large-scale, multi-figure compositions of allegorical subjects. This image of utopian dream represents 'Summer', and is also known as 'The Harvest'. It is a preliminary study for one such monumental painting dated 1873, which was bought by the French government at the 1873 Salon and now hangs in the entrance hall of the Musée d'Orsay in Paris. Puvis had difficulties in deciding on the right number of figures and there are major changes between the study and the finished painting, which is dominated by the landscape.
The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN