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The Bathers

Jean Metzinger, French, 1883 - 1956

Made in France, Europe


Oil on canvas

58 3/8 × 41 7/8 inches (148.3 × 106.4 cm)

© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Curatorial Department:
European Painting

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
The Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection, 1950

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Additional information:
  • PublicationMasterpieces from the Philadelphia Museum of Art: Impressionism and Modern Art

    Although a noted artist, Jean Metzinger is perhaps best known as the co-author, with Albert Gleizes, of the important book Du "cubisme" (1912), which elucidated the practices and theories guiding many artists during the Cubist epoch. Having studied both mathematics and painting as a young man in Nantes, Metzinger later became involved with the group of artists that met in the Puteaux suburb of Paris to discuss Cubism in relation to science, philosophy, and other subjects. The Bathers was painted in Meudon,1 the Parisian suburb near Puteaux where the artist spent the summers of 1911-13. The painting is an avant-garde take on a popular theme employed by many nineteenth-century French artists: a female nude or nudes set within a landscape. In contrast to Renoir's voluptuous women in Arcadian settings, however, Metzinger's composition has transformed this classic subject through application of the principles of Cubism, simplifying the composition into planar forms and utilizing a limited color palette of greens and browns. The Bathers also offers the viewer a voyeuristic vantage point, presenting the jewel-like facets that comprise the women, trees, and architecture from an elevated perspective. Melissa Kerr, from Masterpieces from the Philadelphia Museum of Art: Impressionism and Modern Art (2007), p. 148.

    1) Inscribed on the reverse of the painting is "Metzinger, 'Les Baigneuses' / Meudon, 1913."