The J. Paul Getty Museum

Dejanira (Autumn)

Object Details


Dejanira (Autumn)


Gustave Moreau (French, 1826 - 1898)




about 1872–1873


Oil on panel

Object Number:



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

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Object Description

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. 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.

The artist intended for Dejanira to belong to 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.
Source: Paris, Musée Gustave Moreau, archives, Lepel-Cointet / Moreau correspondence, 1872-73; Getty Research Institute, annotated copy of Lepel-Cointet sale catalogue.

- 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, French, 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)
  • Galeries nationales du Grand Palais (Paris), 1900
Exposition Gustave Moreau, au profit des oeuvres du travail et des pauvres honteux (May 1906)
  • Galerie Georges Petit (Paris)
Gustave Moreau (1826-1898) (September 28, 1998 to January 4, 1999)
  • Galeries nationales du Grand Palais (Paris), September 28, 1998 to January 4, 1999
Landscapes of Myth (November 5, 2002 to February 2, 2003)
  • 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)
  • Musée de Brou (Bourg-en-Bresse), June 12 to September 12, 2004

Hôtel Drouot, Paris. Catalogue de tableaux [...] composant la collection de feu M. Lepel-Cointet. June 10, 1881, p. 16, lot 30.

Renan, Ary. "Gustave Moreau." Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 2nd ser., 34, no. 1 (July 1886), p. 37.

Renan, Ary. "Gustave Moreau - III." Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 3rd ser., 21, no. 502 (April 1899), p. 307, ill.

Renan, Ary. "Gustave Moreau - I." Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 3rd ser., 21, no. 499 (January 1899), p. 15.

Renan, Ary. "Gustave Moreau - VI." Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 3rd ser., 22, no. 510 (December 1899), p. 484.

Catalogue officiel illustré de l'exposition centennale de l'art français de 1800 à 1889, exh. cat. (Paris: Ludovic Baschet, with Lemercier, 1900), p. 212, no. 501.

Exposition internationale universelle de 1900: Catalogue général officiel, oeuvres d'art, exposition centennale de l'art français (1800-1889), exh. cat. (Paris: Lemercier, 1900), p. 56, no. 501.

Montesquiou, Robert de, ed. Exposition Gustave Moreau, au profit des oeuvres du travail et des pauvres honteux, exh. cat. (Paris: Galerie Georges Petit, 1906), p. 33, no. 11.

Schuré, Edouard. Précurseurs et révoltés (Paris: Perrin, 1913), pp. 357-58.

Galerie Georges Petit, Paris. Catalogue des tableaux modernes [...] provenant de la succession de M. X***. May 29, 1913, p. 21, lot 18, ill.

Holten, Ragnar von. "Gustave Moreau sculpteur." La Revue des arts 9, nos. 4-5 (1959), p. 211.

Mathieu, Pierre-Louis. Gustave Moreau, sa vie, son oeuvre: Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre achevé (Paris: Bibliothèque des arts, 1976), pp. 116, 118, 190, 310, no. 128, ill.

Mathieu, Pierre-Louis. Gustave Moreau, with a Catalogue of the Finished Paintings, Watercolors and Drawings. James Emmons, trans. (Boston: New York Graphic Society, 1976), pp. 116, 118, 189, 317, no. 128, ill.

Hofstätter, Hans H. Gustave Moreau: Leben und Werk (Cologne: DuMont, 1978), p. 92.

"Acquisitions/1984." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 13 (1985), p. 213, no. 146, ill.

Mathieu, Pierre-Louis. Le Musée Gustave Moreau (Paris: Editions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 1986), p. 51.

Julia, Isabelle, et al., eds. Jules-Elie Delaunay, 1828-1891, exh. cat. (Nantes: Musée des beaux-arts, 1988), p. 171, under no. 89.

Hall, Nicholas H. J., ed. Colnaghi in America: A Survey to Commemorate the First Decade of Colnaghi New York (New York: Colnaghi, 1992), pp. 120-21, 130, ill.

Lacambre, Geneviève, Shuji Takashina, and Chikashi Kitazaki, eds. Gustave Moreau, exh. cat. (Tokyo: Musée national d'art occidental, 1995), p. 100, under no. 25, ill.

Lacambre, Geneviève, et al., eds. Gustave Moreau e l'Italia, exh. cat. (Rome: Accademia di Francia, with Skira, 1996), p. 206, under no. 96.

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 89, ill.

Lacambre, Geneviève, et al., eds. Gustave Moreau, 1826-1898, exh. cat. (Paris: Réunion des musées nationaux, 1998), pp. 110-12, no. 46, ill., entry by Geneviève Lacambre.

Mathieu, Pierre-Louis. Gustave Moreau: Monographie et nouveau catalogue de l'oeuvre achevé (Courbevoie: ACR, 1998), pp. 64-65, 319, no. 146, ill.

Lacambre, Geneviève, et al., eds. Gustave Moreau: Between Epic and Dream, exh. cat. John Goodman, trans. (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, with Princeton University Press, 1999), pp. 118-19, no. 46, ill., entry by Geneviève Lacambre.

Allan, Scott C. "Les métamorphoses de 'L'Automne (Déjanire)' de Gustave Moreau." Revue de l'art, no. 137 (2002-3), pp. 49-62, fig. 2.

Lyons, Claire L. Landscapes of Myth, exh. brochure (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2002), unpaginated, no. 33.

Moreau, Gustave. Écrits sur l’art. Ed. Peter Cooke (Fontfroide: Bibliothèque artistique & littéraire, 2002), vol. 1, pp. 89-90.

Sarda, Marie-Anne, et al., eds. Paysages de rêve de Gustave Moreau, exh. cat. (Bourg-en-Bresse: Musée de Brou, 2004), pp. 95, 96-98, 174, no. 48, ill., text by Marie-Anne Sarda.

Sarda, Marie-Anne. "Sources et développements de Gustave Moreau pour l'art du paysage." In Paysages de rêve de Gustave Moreau, exh. cat. Marie-Anne Sarda et al., eds. (Bourg-en-Bresse: Musée de Brou, 2004), p. 53.

Khandekar, Narayan, Stephan Wolohojian, and Teri Hensick. “Gustave Moreau’s ‘Jacob and the Angel’ Re-Examined.” The Burlington Magazine 147, no. 1225 (April 2005), p. 257.

Sloan, Rachel. Review of Paysages de rêve de Gustave Moreau. Bourg-en-Bresse and Reims. The Burlington Magazine 147, no. 1222 (January 2005), p. 61.

Allan, Scott Christopher. “Gustave Moreau (1826-1898) and the Afterlife of French History Painting,” Ph.D. diss. (Princeton University, 2007), pp. 218, 225-27.