Larger Type
Smaller Type

Search Collections

A Breton Sunday

ca. 1890 Eugene Laurent Vail Born: St. Servan, France 1857 Died: Paris, France 1934 oil on canvas 36 1/2 x 29 1/8 in. (92.6 x 74.0 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Mary B. Longyear 1917.1.1 Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 3rd Floor, 4A

Luce Center Label

Eugene Laurent Vail was born in Brittany and returned there to paint after studying in New York City and Paris. He was highly respected by art critics and artists alike for his scenes of everyday life and found inspiration in his native region's people and fishing villages. In A Breton Sunday, a young woman holds a Bible and wears the typical white Breton cap. Behind a fishing boat, rings of smoke dot the hilly shoreline and a church sits atop a hill far in the distance. The flat perspective, dark colors, and floating figure show a departure from Vail's usual impressionistic style with its bright colors and loose brushstrokes. The painting's composition and mood suggest Vail's awareness of the symbolist painters of Pont-Aven of the 1880s. The symbolist movement focused on the emotions and ideas that an artwork evoked rather than its formal composition and narrative. The movement greatly influenced French painters at the time, most notably Paul Gauguin, who championed its ideas in his art and writings.


Architecture - boat

Figure female - bust

Landscape - France - Brittany

Landscape - water

Religion - Christianity


paint - oil

fabric - canvas

About Eugene Laurent Vail

Born: St. Servan, France 1857 Died: Paris, France 1934

More works in the collection by
Eugene Laurent Vail