One day, while descending from the mountaintop, I saw Virginie running from one end of the garden toward the house, her head covered by her overskirt, which she had lifted from behind her in order to gain shelter from a rain-shower. From a distance I had thought she was alone; but upon coming closer to help her walk I saw that by the arm she held Paul who was almost entirely covered by the same blanket. Both were laughing together in the shelter of this umbrella of their own invention.

This passage from Bernardin de Saint-Pierre’s Paul et Virginie may have furnished the direct inspiration for Pierre Auguste Cot’s life-size painting The Storm, which was commissioned by Catharine Lorillard Wolfe and exhibited at the Salon in 1880. She bequeathed it with her whole collection to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

There are many similarities between this painting and the artists earlier Spring, they are about the same size and feature the same couple. The model for the girl was obviously a different one, but the hair colors and hair styles are identical in both pictures. Since Spring was owned by Catharine’s cousin John Wolfe, so it is likely that she wanted a similar, or matching, painting.

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