Jean Georges Vibert (French, 1840–1902),
The Grasshopper and the Ant (Le Cigale et la Formi)
oil on canvas, 24 ¼ x 33 ½ in.; 61.6 x 85.1 cm
Gift of Francis T. B. Martin, 1995.44
Vibert was one of France’s most acclaimed Academic genre painters, renowned for his irony and wit, specializing in satiric pictures of the Catholic clergy, which were highly popular. Here he has recast the familiar fable of the fun-seeking grasshopper and the industrious ant: a lone minstrel accosts a group of monks, only one of whom stops to hear his pleas. Vibert has carefully contrasted the two men's appearances to illustrate the material discrepancy between them. The minstrel is scrawny and hunch-backed, shivering in his thread-bare tights; the monk is well-fed and jolly, his rucksack overstocked with food and game.