Due to a private event, if you are visiting Waddesdon between 17-24 Aug, there will be some disruption in the gardens on the North & South Fronts, Parterre & Aviary. Ticket holders will be contacted directly.

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Gustave Moreau: The Fables online exhibition

Fortune and the Child, 1883

A boy was sleeping beside a deep well. Fortune chided him for putting himself in danger. Had he fallen in, everyone would have said it was her fault.

This work depicts the moment just before Fortune wakes the boy. She stands on a wheel and holds a cornucopia. Her benevolent expression and hand, already reaching out over the child, promises him the protection from what La Fontaine describes as a ‘fall of twenty fathoms’.

Moreau’s use of red chalk can be seen clearly here, particularly in the outlines of the bodies. He relied on it to create the form of Fortune’s outstretched arm, which is not modelled with shading, and on its particular ability, long appreciated by artists, to suggest the flesh and blood presence of this personification.