Gustave Moreau


Oil on panel

154 x 100 cm.)

Louvre, Paris

“A work full of the subtlest fascination, if in some respects technically incomplete, is the ‘Jeune Fille avec la Tête d'Orphee.’ It illustrates the legend that, after the death of Orpheus at the hands of the Thracian Mænads, his severed head and lyre were wafted to the shores of Lesbos, and there piously interred. A young girl, clad in richly embroidered draperies of a fashion half-classical, half-Oriental, and combining exquisitely harmonised tints of blue and green, stands, holding on a lyre of ivory, elaborately painted and wrought, the head of Orpheus — of godlike beauty even in its bloodless and deathly pallor. She gazes down on it with an expression of boundless though subdued pity, through which pierces, too, somewhat of an unconscious amorous longing. The landscape, in its strange, unreal beauty, suggests more than ever Lionardo, whose influence is also revealed in the subtle and pathetic conception of the maiden, with its enigmatical charm stimulating the gazer to seek the interpretation of the fascinating riddle.”