The Burial of Atala
Artist Anne-Louis Girodet
"Whosoever had not known that this young maiden had once enjoyed the light of day would have taken her for a statue of virginity asleep," wrote François René Chateaubriand of Atala in his popular Romantic novel of 1801. Taking inspiration from such poetic lines, the artist, painting in a style similar to Anne-Louis Girodet de Roucy Trioson, let the rays of the moon play upon Atala and cast over the whole a dreamlike, mystical, magic light, establishing a decidedly Romantic mood. In this scene, Atala's beloved American Indian lover--looking like a Neoclassical version of a Roman hero--and a missionary lay her to rest after she has committed suicide rather than break the vow of virginity she made to her dying mother.