The Frogs who ask for a King, 1884
The frogs were tired of their democracy and asked Jupiter for a king. He threw them a log but the frogs were disappointed by its inaction. They asked for another king and Jupiter sent them a crane, which began to eat them. They asked for another king but Jupiter said they should have stuck with what they had got.
This fable has a long history in France as a way of expressing often contradictory political views, from contentment with the status quo to criticism of over-powerful rulers to fear of the mob. Moreau’s version of the fable leaves its interpretation open, although close observation of nature runs through an unmistakably humanized drama.
The low viewpoint makes the crane loom over the amphibians and isolates the body of the frog hanging from its beak. Despite the violence of this passage, the sheet reveals Moreau’s powers as a landscape painter at their most poetic: the feathery grasses, the red on the horizon and the flock of birds moving across the sky.