La Cigale by Jules-Joseph Lefebvre (French, 1836-1911) 1872, oil on canvas.
The title is taken Jean De La Fontaine’s adaptation of Aesop’s fable “The Grasshopper and the Ant” (or “The Cicada and the Ant”, which is “La Cigale et la fourmi” in French). The Grasshopper, who dances and sings all summer long, is critical of the Ant for spending its time labouring to put away supplies for winter. The Grasshopper’s folly is exposed when the weather turns, leaving it cold, hungry and unprepared.
Lefebvre’s female nude seemingly represents the Grasshopper at the onset of autumn, realising the consequences of her careless frivolity.