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The grasshopper
(La Cigale)

oil on canvas
186.7 × 123.8 cm
inscribed in black paint u.r.: Jules LeFebvre. 1872
Accession Number
International Painting
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Felton Bequest, 2005
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of Digitisation Champion Ms Carol Grigor through Metal Manufactures Limited
Gallery location
19th Century European Paintings Gallery
Level 2, NGV International

Exhibited Salon, Paris, 1872, no. 970; with Goupil & Cie. (dealer), Paris, 7 May 1872, stock no. 6494; sold to Henry Wallis, of the French Gallery (dealer), London, 8 May 1872[1]; sold by Wallis, through Goupil, to Messrs L’Herbette Kane & Cie[2], Paris, 1875, stock no. 9692[3]; collection of Milton Latham (1827–82), Thurlow Lodge, San Francisco, by 1878; by whom sold, George Leavitt & Co. (auction house), at Chickering Hall, New York, 28 March 1878 (Lugt 38194), no. 68; from where purchased by Knoedler Gallery, New York, 1878, stock no. 1011 ($US2950)[4]; by whom sold to Daniel (1837–1916) and Justina Catlin, 12 April 1878 ($US3500); Catlin collection, St Louis, Missouri, until 1893; by whom donated, to the City Art Museum (now St Louis Art Museum), Missouri, 1893; City Art Museum, Missouri, 1893–1945; deaccessioned and sold, Representative paintings by Famous XIX Century Artists selected from the Collections of two educational institutions, Kende Galleries (auction house), at Gimbel Brothers, New York, 4 May 1945, no. 175; collection of Julian Sterling (1923–2012, collector-dealer), Melbourne, by 1984–2005; from whom purchased for the Felton Bequest, 2005.

[1] Getty Provenance Databases, Dealer’s stockbooks, PI Record no. G-9290, Goupil Stockbook 5, page 227, row 2

[2] Bankers, commissioners and transportation agents, Paris and United States, see ‘Parisian Gossip…’ New York Times, New York, Friday 2 November 1860,

[3] Possibly purchased on behalf of Milton Latham. Getty Provenance Databases, Dealer’s stockbooks, PI Record no. G-12846, Goupil Stockbook 7, page 213, row 2

[4] Getty Provenance Databases, Dealer’s stockbooks, PI Record no. K-546, also M. Knoedler & Co. records, approximately 1848-1971, The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, Accession no. 2012.M.54, Series II, Sales books 1863–1971, Box 63, Sales book 3, January 1874– April 1879, stock no. 1011, page 20, row 42

Exhibited Salon, Paris, 1872, no. 970; World’s Columbian Exposition, Fine Arts Gallery, Group 146, Exhibits from private collections (Loan collection of foreign works from private galleries in the United States), Gallery 41 (South wall), no. 3030, as La Cigale, lent by the St Louis Museum of Fine Arts


La Cigale was first exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1872. One of Jules Lefebvre’s classic female nudes, the painting was presented as an allegorical illustration of a famous fable by Jean de La Fontaine (1621–1695), ‘The Ant and the Grasshopper’. In La Fontaine’s tale, the grasshopper spends the summer singing and playing while making fun of the industrious ant, who lays up stores and prepares his house for the winter. When the first frosty winds of winter blow in, the grasshopper is caught unawares and homeless. La Cigale was painted three years before the artist’s famous Chloé (Young and Jackson’s Hotel, Melbourne), which won for Jules Lefebvre a medal of honour at the Paris Salon of 1875.