Nue endormie [Sleeping Nude]
20 cm x 27.3 cm (7 7/8 in. x 10 3/4 in.)
Paul Albert Besnard
(Paris, France, 1849 - 1934, Paris, France)
Medium and Support:
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Gift of Thomas Cranfill, 1980
Unlike many of the other artists shown here, Besnard successfully navigated the official academic art establishment, winning the coveted Prix de Rome, which allowed him to study at the government’s expense in Rome for five years and subsequently to earn many publicly funded commissions. The Symbolists were attracted to Besnard’s ability to create mood through a manipulation of luminous effects in his prints and paintings. His best-known print series is Elle [She], an essay on the femme fatale. This single image shows the alternative to the femme fatale – woman as vulnerable and innocent, resting peacefully, unencumbered by desire or ambition. The choice of a sepia toned ink and a cream laid paper contribute to the warmth and intimacy of the subject.