Dziewczynka z muchą Muenier, Jules-Alexis (1863 - 1942)

Dziewczynka z muchą

Jules-Alexis Muenier (1863-1942)
was a French painter and printmaker. He studied under Jean-Léon Gérôme, Pascal Dagnan-Bouveret and Jacques Courtois. For years he exhibited at French Salons. He was a member of the Société des Artistes Français. Initially he was engaged in genre painting, idealizing the life of peasants and workers. Later he devoted himself to genre scenes in the elegant style of official art.

Description of the painting:
The painting depicts a genre scene taking place inside. The protagonist is a girl trying to touch a fly sitting on the mirror. The child is dressed in a white long dress with short sleeves, decorated with a black ribbon. The ribbon motif also appears on the child’s golden curls. To reach the mirror suspended above the massive commode, the girl supports her right foot on the chair, then her knee and her left hand on the top of the commode. With her extended right hand, she almost touches the insect. On the mirror’s surface, the girl’s face is visible, and the window of the room is also reflected. The interior is decorative, with stylish furniture accompanied by an oval-framed painting, a golden carved applique above the mirror and live flowers placed in a transparent vase on the commode.

The painting is kept in a warm, subdued palette. Shades of brown and green predominate. The interior is brightened by the sun’s rays entering from the covered window, located at the right edge of the painting. The artist shows how the light is scattered by the water in the vase or how it reflects on the polished surface of the commode. The introduction of the mirror into the composition allows for the presentation of both the situation taking place with its participation and the concentration on the face of the girl trying to reach the titular fly. The scene resembles the event from Lewis Carroll’s novel “Through the Looking Glass” from 1871, a continuation of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”. In it, Alice passes through the mirror to the enchanted land “(…) she was standing on a hearth rug (…). And certainly the glass began melting away like bright silver mist.”* The girl’s age, outfit and pose resemble the heroine of the novel.