Dejanira (Autumn)

Object Details


Dejanira (Autumn)


Gustave Moreau (French, 1826 - 1898)




about 1872 - 1873


Oil on panel


55.1 x 45.4 cm (21 11/16 x 17 7/8 in.)

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The centaur Nessus offered to carry Dejanira, the wife of Hercules, across the river Evenus and then abducted her. Having already crossed the river, Hercules hid in the rocky crags beyond, readying a poisoned arrow to let loose on Nessus.

Gustave Moreau contrasted the centaur's dark skin and muscular strength with Dejanira's pale flesh and graceful, lithe figure. Indeed, the two figures resemble dancers performing a ballet rather than opponents struggling for sexual conquest. With its jagged mountains, the hazy, mysterious landscape provides an eerie background. Moreau was not interested in presenting detailed information about the setting or its elements; he chose instead to disintegrate forms, allowing them to give way to areas of color that suggest shapes.

He meant to include Dejanirain a set of pictures representing the changing seasons; the painting's autumnal palette of reds, oranges, browns, dark greens, and creamy whites conveys its other title, Autumn. Moreau described what he had in mind to the painting's first owner:

I have tried to render the harmony that may exist between the world of nature at a certain time of year and certain phases of human life. The centaur seeks to embrace this white and graceful form, which is about to escape him. It is a last gleam, a last smile of nature and life. Winter threatens. Night is coming on. It is autumn.

1873 - 1881

Lepel-Cointet (Paris, France) [sold, Lepel-Cointet sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, June 10, 1881, lot 30, to Hector Brame], purchased from the artist, 1873.

1881 -

Hector Brame

- about 1885

Charles Hayem (Paris, France), sold to Jules Beer, about 1885.

about 1885 - 1913

Jules Beer (Paris, France) [sold, Beer sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, May 29, 1913, lot 18, through Durand-Ruel & Cie (Paris, France) to Edmond James de Rothschild]

1913 - 1934

Baron Edmond James de Rothschild, Austrian, 1845 - 1934 (Paris, France), by inheritance to Maurice (Edmond Charles) de Rothschild, 1934.

1934 - 1957

Baron Maurice (Edmond Charles) de Rothschild, Austrian, 1881 - 1957 (Chateau de Pregny, Geneva, Switzerland), by inheritance to Edmond (Adolphe Maurice Jules Jacques) de Rothschild, 1957.

1957 - 1980

Baron Edmond (Adolphe Maurice Jules Jacques) de Rothschild, French, 1926 - 1997, sold to Colnaghi, 1980.

1980 - 1984

Colnaghi (London, England; New York, New York), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1984.

Exposition centennale de l'art français de 1800 à 1889 (1900) (Cat. 501)
  • Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, (Paris), 1900
Exposition Gustave Moreau, au profit des oeuvres du travail et des pauvres honteux (May 1906) (Cat. 11)
  • Galerie Georges Petit, (Paris), May 1 to May 1, 1906
Gustave Moreau (1826-1898) (September 28, 1998 to January 4, 1999) (Cat. 46)
  • Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, (Paris), September 28, 1998 to January 4, 1999
Landscapes of Myth (November 5, 2002 to February 2, 2003) (Cat. 33)
  • The Getty Research Institute, (Los Angeles), November 5, 2002 to February 2, 2003
Paysages de rêve de Gustave Moreau (June 12 to September 12, 2004) (Cat. 48)
  • Musée de Brou, (Bourg-en-Bresse), June 12 to September 12, 2004
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