Joan Miró

Women and Bird in the Moonlight


Joan Miró 1893–1983
Original title
Femmes, oiseau au clair de lune
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 813 x 660 mm
frame: 1049 x 897 x 114 mm
Purchased 1951

Display caption

This work belongs to a series of paintings that Miró made in 1949–50 in Majorca.
Miró’s use of simple shapes and bright colours constitutes a highly personal visual language, often charged with symbolic meaning. In this case, the women and bird of the title are easily identifiable under the moon and stars. This imagery suggests a harmonious and elemental relationship between man and nature, which the artist felt was threatened by modern civilisation.

Gallery label, August 2013

Catalogue entry

Joan Miró born 1893 [ - 1983]

N06007 Femmes, Oiseau au Clair de Lune (Women and Bird in the Moonlight) 1949

Inscribed 'Miró | 10 | 1949' on back of canvas
Oil on canvas, 32 x 26 (81.5 x 66)
Purchased from the Galerie Maeght (Knapping Fund) 1951
Prov: With Galerie Maeght, Paris (purchased from the artist 1951) Exh: Braque, Chagall, Kandinsky, La Fresnaye, Matisse, Miró, Arp ..., Galerie Maeght, Paris, February-March 1951 (no catalogue); Joan Miró, Tate Gallery, August-October 1964 (188, repr.); Kunsthaus, Zurich, October-December 1964 (188, repr.); Joan Miró, Grand Palais, Paris, May-October 1974 (65, repr.); Louisiana Museum, Humlebaek, November 1974-January 1975 (29, repr. in colour)
Lit: Jacques Dupin, Joan Miró: Life and Work (London 1962), No.730, pp.392-5, repr. p.555 as 'Painting. 1 June, 1949'
Repr: XXe Siècle, No.1, 1951, p.32 as 'Femme et Oiseau au Clair de Lune'; Jacques Prévert and G. Ribemont-Dessaignes, Joan Miró (Paris 1956), p.167 as 'L'Etoile blanche' 1948; Roland Penrose, Miró (London 1970), p.114 in colour

When asked whether the title used here was correct, the artist replied (letter of 17 June 1954): 'To the whole of this series of paintings, which was executed very slowly, I gave on completion a general title of "Paintings", but later, to be more precise and give a more objective and concrete meaning, I entitled your picture "Femmes, Oiseau au Clair de Lune".'

Jacques Dupin has pointed out that Miró's paintings of the period 1949-50 can be divided into two contrasting and complementary series: a series of very elaborate paintings noteworthy for the diversity and extraordinary refinement of their grounds (the present work is an example of this) and a further series of completely spontaneous paintings of a summary, gestural character. In the 'elaborate' paintings, he writes, 'Figures, birds, animals, stars, and signs play and combine with one another with an elegance and acrobatic sureness, a casualness in the revelation of mystery and a joy in their nostalgic evocation of a primitive world which together confound the imagination'.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.525-6, reproduced p.525


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