With high winds forecast tonight/tomorrow, we've decided we must close Waddesdon on Sat 27 Nov for the safety of our visitors and staff. Those with bookings will be automatically contacted about refunds.

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Gustave Moreau: The Fables online exhibition

The Miser and the Monkey, 1879

A miser kept his treasure in a sea-encircled tower and spent his time counting his money. His pet monkey amused himself by throwing the coins out of the window until its master, eventually, noticed. Hoarding wealth is as pointless as throwing it into the sea.

The dramatic contrasts of light and dark and the cavernous interior recall works by Rembrandt (1606–1669) and Moreau combines moralizing Netherlandish images of misers and moneylenders with French traditions of singerie, a satirical genre in which monkeys imitate the behaviour of mankind.

Moreau achieved the grainy effect by using quite a dry brush and the texture of the paper. He used wetter paint for the glass in the window, the sea, and the coins almost dripping from the monkey’s hand.