Thomas Hovenden, Study of a Breton Woman Packing a Loaf of Bread for “In Hoc Signo Vinces”

Graphite on paper
Credit Line
Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Mr. Stiles Tuttle Colwill, 2018
16 ½ in. x 10 ½ in.

This detailed study by Thomas Hovenden is of a figure in his 1880 painting In Hoc Signo Vinces. The finished painting, now in the Detroit Institute of Arts, depicts an invented scene from the Wars of the Vendée during the French Revolution. A Chouan (a Breton royalist insurgent) prepares to leave his family to join his fellow volunteers as his wife sews a patch to his chest. The Chouan later became a symbol for faith and loyalty.

This study is of a figure in the background of the painting who is packing a loaf of bread for the soldier. It was a common practice in 1793 for volunteers of local parishes to come prepared with arms and a loaf of bread.

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