Collection Online

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

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.