Breton Women at a Pardon
Breton Women at a Pardon (French: Les Bretonnes au Pardon) is an 1887 oil on canvas by the French academic painter Pascal Dagnan-Bouveret (1852–1929). It shows seven women sitting on grass in a churchyard waiting for a ceremony to begin. The painting is coloured with somber tones although the women have a serene calmness, whose demeanour was described by critic Richard Dortment as one of "simplicity and piety".
The women are dressed in traditional Breton costume which in the late 19th century would have been reserved for such an event; various starched white headdresses and collars, worn over long plain dark dresses. They are huddled in conversation while two men stand to their left with heads bowed, looking coyly at the women. The men have round black hats and are similarly dressed in black with while collars.
This work is from a series of Breton paintings, and follows directly from the similar 1886 The Pardon in Brittany. It has a photorealistic look; Dagnan-Bouveret often used photographs as well as drawings and oil sketches when preparing for a finished canvas. There are many known photographic studies and drawings both for the Breton series in general, and this work in particular. One photograph shows a grassy area in which the artist had a friend pose, another a view of the church seen here in the background, complete with the festival flags protruding from the lower spire.
The almost uncomfortable closeness of the women to the viewer as well as its vertical framing add to the 'snapshot' aspect. From the photographs, the painting is known to be the Pardon de Rumengol, Finistère, Brittany.
Breton Women at a Pardon was first exhibited at the Salon in 1889, where it drew acclaim and won the Grand Prise. It is often compared to Paul Gauguin's at the time controversial 1888 Vision After the Sermon and Émile Bernard's 1888 Breton Women in the Meadow (clearly inspired by Dagnan-Bouveret), as much for contrast in approach and in critical reaction, as for their thematic and compositional similarities. Gauguin and Bernard were seen as radicals at the time, and disdained at the Salon.
The 1887 study Head of a Woman in Breton Costume shows a working for the central woman who looks out at the viewer.
1887 photographic study of the group, including the standing men.
Le Pardon de Rumengol L'Eglise et le Clocher - Picture postcard showing the flags around the spire, used to give a festive look leading up to the pardon. 
- Cachin, Francoise. Gauguin. Flammarion, 1990. ISBN 2-08-030430-5
- Daniélou, Serge. Email from the Pastoral Council of
- Weisberg, Gabriel. Against the Modern: Dagnan-Bouveret and the Transformation of the Academic Tradition. Rutgers University Press, 2002. ISBN 0-8135-3156-X
- Wold, Gretchen. "Some Notes on 'The Pardon in Brittany' by Dagnan-Bouveret". Metropolitan Museum Journal, volume 35, 2000