Although known primarily as a sculptor, most famously of the Statue of Liberty, the Frenchman Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi was also a painter. Sometime in the 1860s he painted Nymphs and Fauns Frightened by a Train, depicting a placid wooden glade disrupted by a steam locomotive hurtling toward the painting’s foreground. Startled from their primordial playground by the sound of the oncoming train, a dozen or so nymphs and fauns flee desperately into the woods in fear. As Darcy Grimaldo Grigsby notes in her splendid book Colossal, Bartholdi’s surreal juxtaposition conjures an image, at once allegorical and lacking in subtlety, in which “modern transport menaces an ideal of nature and the motifs constituting that...

You do not currently have access to this content.