(b. 1767, Paris, d. 1849, Paris)
Oil on canvas, 130 x 165 cm
Musée de Picardie, Amiens
The toll of young men in the French Revolution, and in the ensuing wars, was immense. While loss afflicted both sexes and all ages, its consequences for women were more practical. Survival and responsibility created new opportunities. While women artists were not a new phenomenon, it was women artists in Paris some of them associated with David - who found the means to project the grief of an abandoned generation in terms of poetic allegory. But far from asserting independence, their pictures tended to reinforce male stereotypes of female attachment. Epitomized by Melancholy by Constance Charpentier, which appeared in the Salon of 1801 and showed a girl seated alone and despondent in a woody landscape, meditating on her lost loved one, these soulful and sentimental images conveyed a passive devotion. These women seem to have nothing to do but remember; time and emotion are frozen for them.