PEIGNE, Madame (French, active 1770, died 1815), Narcissus poëticus

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Gouache on toned paper

31 ½" x 26 ½"

Signed on lower left; title inscribed on bottom margin


Madam Peigné was one of the only women artists working in France in the late 18th- and early 19th-century, a time when female artists were not allowed to draw or paint from nudes, create frescoes, or receive formal academic training, though they were allowed to engage with still life painting and natural history subject matter. Despite these restrictions, Madam Peigné was able to create artworks of exceptional grace, beauty, and liveliness.

The present composition features a captivating portrait of Narcissus Poeticus, a flower often identified as the narcissus of ancient times, and associated with the Greek legend of Narcissus. Otherwise known as "pheasant's-eye daffodil" or "poet's narcissus," this flower was also one of the first daffodils to be cultivated. Strongly fragrant, with a ring of petals in snow white and a short corona of faint yellow with distinct reddish edge, the narcissus grows from 8 to 16 inches tall, and is widely found in North America. Peigné’s portrayal brings out the simplicity and delicacy of the narcissus, as well as its luminosity and buoyancy.  The four different flower heads show the bloom from every angle allowing the viewer to fully appreciate their delicacy. The nuanced tones of the variously green leaves are complemented by the toned color of the paper, while the texture of the petals is skillfully evoked. The sinuous leaves of the flower convey a sense of movement, and contribute to the overall sense of animation and ebullience.

For more information about this work, or other watercolors in the Arader Galleries collection, please contact Alison Petretti at 646.673.4505 or by email