Fantine by Margaret Bernadine Hall

The painter Margaret Bernadine Hall was so touched by Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables that she painted this image of Fantine, with baby Cosette in her crib. While plump, ruddy cheeked Cosette sleeps peacefully, her mother’s misery is evident. We know from the novel that she was extremely poor and if you look carefully, you will detect an empty bottle on the table behind her. As for the chiaroscuro (the treatment of light and shade in a painting), by making both the background and Fantine’s shirt black, the painter is guiding us directly to her hopeless eyes and downturned mouth. A very powerful image.

Margaret Bernardine Hall - Fantine - baby Cosette - easier to see bottle here

 

 

 

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