Dose of Art #179: Pierre Auguste Cot – La Tempête / The Storm (1880)

Paul et Virginie is a novel by the Frenchmen Jacques-Henri Bernardin de Saint-Pierre. First published in 1788 it tells the story of two childhood friends on the island of Mauritius who fall in love.
Almost a century later Pierre Auguste Cot painted La Tempête commisioned by Catharine Lorillard Wolfe, an American philanthropist and art collector. Other interpretations exist, but the most convincing one is that Cot based it on this specific scene in Paul et Virginie:

“One day, while descending from the mountaintop, I saw Virginie running from one end of the garden toward the house, her head covered by her overskirt, which she had lifted from behind her in order to gain shelter from a rain shower. From a distance I had thought she was alone, but upon coming closer to help her walk I saw that by the arm she held Paul who was almost entirely covered by the same blanket. Both were laughing together in the shelter of this umbrella of their own invention.”

Eying the storm they seek shelter for, covering their heads with a blanket.


They run with the lightness of youth, there legs moving in unison, their feet barely touching the ground.

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