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The Storm

The painting of Pierre-Auguste Cot's, 'The Storm' or the  L'Orage has for a long time been considered at least by Americans who are aware of it as a symbol of late nineteenth-century French academicism. The painting is located at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and is far widely known by many people more than Cot, the artist who painted the storm in 1880. The art works has a romantic theme.

Background information

The Storm was commissioned from Cot in 1880 by Catharine Lorillard and displayed at the Salon that same year. Since then, critics have pondered about the source of the subjects in the art work. Some of the critics have suggested that the subjects in the art work are the Greek romance Daphnis and Chloe and while others have mentioned that the art work depicts the romantic tale Paul.

Art work Analysis

Cot’s painting, the Storm signed and dated 1880 is an oil painting that was done on a canvas. The original painting measured 921/4 x 63/4 inches (235 X 156.9 cm.). Since the creation of the art work, reproduction of the same has been done in medium and small size[iii].The art work is portrait in nature and has on its foreground two subjects; a young man and a young woman who seem to be are fleeing from something unknown to the viewer while running next to one another. The young man looks to be strong and agile while the young woman looks to be delicate and fearful but both seem to be in unity as they are holdings. The look of the young man is fascinating as he continues to gaze at the beautiful woman even as they flee; nevertheless the young woman seems to be comforted by the arm of the young.

The art work reveals a wild setting where the young man and woman seem to be located. The bare clothes on the man and sheer dress of the young woman bring the effects of romance and emotions to the viewers. Cot’s artwork depicts that the man and woman seems to be in a rural setting as the painting reveals a rural path neighboring shrubs as seen on the bottom part of the painting. The clouds on the upper right hand of the painting seem to portray an oncoming storm and could be the reason why the young man and woman fleeing.

Looking at the painting, it can see that the young man and woman are closer to the viewer as they occupy the center of the painting in comparison to the other elements such as the path and the scrubs. Cot’s made good use of the space as the two subjects in the painting come out clearly and the theme of intimacy between the subjects is notable as the young man and woman hold each other closely a sign of companionship and love.

Cot has used colors in the painting to depict different notions. From the painting, it can be seen that, brown color has been used to paint the young woman and man as this color brings to feeling of pleasure as well as protection and thus Cot builds on his theme of love through the use of this color. Through the use of color and shape, the viewer notes that the young man is protecting the woman by pulling her closer to him. The brown color also reveals to the viewer, the warmth companionship between the man and the woman in the painting. The background of the storm has black color that shows uncertainty and power to the viewer. It can therefore represent a storm or rage that is making the two lovers flee. The use of black color in the background portrays the fear of evil and unhappiness that may the young man and woman may be running from[iv]. The use of this black color plays a part in explaining why the young man is protecting the young woman as they flee from danger.

Upon looking at the art work, the viewer will notice that the two human figures are overlapping another and are close to one another. It can also be seen that the young man and woman are covering one another using a cloth depicting a sense of unity. Cot ensured his art work had balance as the viewer can see that the two human figures occupy the center of the painting thus drawing the interest of the viewer. The placement of the subjects at the center of the artwork achieves balance ensures makes Cot’s further develop the theme of his art work[v].

In the storm, the viewer can easily identify that the focal point of the art work is located at the point where the young man’s hand touches the young woman around her waist. This point captures the interest of the viewer as it illustrates the companionship that the young woman and man share and delight in. By use line and contrasting color in painting the arm  of the man as well as the woman’s garment, emphasize is given to the center of interest, a young woman holding her beautiful maid close as they flee.

Cot has used lines and color to guide and directs the viewers’ attention in the painting.  Upon looking at the panting, the eyes of the viewer are guided by lines which are almost oblique. Theses line suggests movement and action as the viewer can observe that the young man and woman are fleeing. The soft lines in the art work reveals the delicate nature of the woman’s body and this helps draw excitement that the two subjects share in the artwork. 

The art work portrays a sense of unity as the two subjects in the artwork are holding one another as they run. The similar body shapes of the young woman and man as they flee also reveals that Cot used harmony as a design element in the artwork. This harmony brings out the feeling that is visually satisfying to the viewer and makes the art work attractive to the viewer[vi]. The art work also portrays rhythm especially in the way Cot has painted the garment of the woman making it have a flow by use of lines that are in movement.  The art work has a smooth texture as shown by the surface of the woman and the man. This could have been achieved by the use of gentle and smooth brushstrokes.


The storm which has remained popular today is a master piece that captivates the viewer and draws ones attention to the nature of romance. The  use of color and lines to create harmony and movement can be seen in the art work as the Cot illustrate the love and desire that the young man has for the young woman. Contrast of color has been used to point the viewer’s eyes center of the artwork. Cot uses shapes effectively to bring out unity and harmony between the man and the woman in the painting and despite the appealing nature of the artwork, the viewer will still wonder what the two subjects are fleeing from.


Cot did a magnificent work to produce this art work. Cot has managed to put into work a number of design elements and principles to create a striking painting such as principles of good composition which has made him come up with an interesting piece of art; a lovely and exciting view of two lovers fleeing. Cot has therefore created a magnificent show of rhythm and movement that provides a pleasing visual satisfaction to the viewer, thus the storm engages the viewer to share the feeling of warmth, love and protection with the young man and the young woman depicted in the artwork despite that the two are fleeing.

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