Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

Stevens was best known for his finely detailed representations of the domestic life of haute-bourgeois French women. In particular, he excelled at the depiction of rich fabrics and interiors. The harpist here is Stevens’s wife, Marie, who has just finished playing, a congratulatory bouquet in hand. The pensive musician is echoed by the bronze statue of a lute player behind her. The statue is one of many versions of a popular sculpture by Paul Dubois, A Florentine Singer from the Fifteenth Century, 1865, which was available in several sizes.

The French aesthete and poet Robert de Montesquiou dedicated his poem Une Musicienne (A Musician) to both Stevens and this painting. The poem’s first stanza can be roughly translated as:

Admirable painting by Stevens: a woman,

Both strong, and pensive, seated, holding

her breath

To hear in her heart, the quivering and

clamoring beat

of the suspended melody, about to end.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
1943.100
People
Alfred Stevens, Belgian (Brussels 1823 - 1906 Paris)
Title
A Musician
Other Titles
Alternate Title: Marie Blanc Stevens
Alternate Title: Portrait of Madame Stevens
Classification
Paintings
Work Type
painting
Date
c. 1868-69
Culture
Belgian
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/230248
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
94.62 x 67.31 cm (37 1/4 x 26 1/2 in.)
framed: 125.41 x 74.61 x 3.81 cm (49 3/8 x 29 3/8 x 1 1/2 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: l.r.: A. Stevens
  • inscription: back of canvas, handwritten, French: C'est ma chere femme qui a posé pour ce tableau [per file-- cardboard strainer now covers back of canvas, no inscriptions visible].
Provenance
Alfred Stevens, 1869, to; Madame Catherine Vivier-Stevens, his daughter; to Marie-Louise Stevens, her niece, sold; [via Martin Birnbaum], to Grenville L. Winthrop, New York, NY, 1932, bequest; to Fogg Art Museum, 1943
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest of Grenville L. Winthrop
Accession Year
1943
Object Number
1943.100
Division
European and American Art
Contact
am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu
THIS WORK MAY NOT BE LENT BY THE TERMS OF ITS ACQUISITION TO THE HARVARD ART MUSEUMS.
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Publication History

Edgar Peters Bowron, European Paintings Before 1900 in the Fogg Art Museum: A Summary Catalogue including Paintings in the Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1990), p. 130; repr. as no. 198

Christiane Lefebvre, Alfred Stevens 1823-1906, Brame and Lorenceau Editions (Paris, France, 2006), p. 116, repr. p. 117 as fig. 134

Saskia de Bodt, Alfred Stevens 1823 Brussels - Paris 1906, exh. cat., Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Van Gogh Museum, and Mercatorfonds (2009), p. 59, depicted in a photograph of a 1907 exhibition of Stevens' work, on the far wall

Exhibition History

France and the Portrait, 1799-1870, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 12/03/1994 - 01/29/2002

For Students of Art and Lovers of Beauty: Highlights from the Collection of Grenville L. Winthrop, Harvard University Art Museums, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 04/16/2004

32Q: 2100 19th Century, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 07/18/2019

Subjects and Contexts

Google Art Project

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu