Nov 8, 2010
Oct 28, 2008

The Oak Tree and the Reed

The Oak Tree and the Reed

c. 1873

Charles François Daubigny

(French, 1817–1878)

Blue, gray, and black wash, and graphite

Support: Cream wove paper

Sheet: 29.3 x 23 cm (11 9/16 x 9 1/16 in.)

Bequest of Muriel Butkin 2008.357



The Oak Tree and the Reed illustrates the fable of the same name by the 17th-century French writer Jean de La Fontaine (1621-1695). Having disdainfully pitied the reed for bending before the wind, the oak is shown torn from the earth by a terrific north wind. Focusing upon the uprooted oak, Daubigny created a violently expressive treatment of the subject. The bold dappling of lights and darks below is set off by the intense blue of the clouds encroaching upon the land from the left. The diagonal streaks of thin-ly applied gray wash above suggest driving rain.

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