Springtime, 1873. Pierre-Auguste Cot. Oil on canvas. Gift of Steven and Alexandra Cohen, 2012.
This flirtatious duo in classicizing dress, painted with notable technical finesse, reflects Cot’s allegiance to the academic style of his teachers, including Bouguereau and Cabanel. Exhibited at the Salon of 1873, the picture was Cot’s greatest success, widely admired and copied in engravings, fans, porcelains, and tapestries. Its first owner, hardware tycoon John Wolfe, awarded the work a prime spot in his Manhattan mansion, where visitors delighted in "this reveling pair of children, drunken with first love ... this Arcadian idyll, peppered with French spice." Wolfe’s cousin, Catharine Lorillard Wolfe, later commissioned a similar scene from Cot,The Storm, now also in the Metropolitan’s collection.