Marguerite Thompson Zorach, Rites of Spring - Olympic Offerings (Recto), 1909, oil on canvas, Michener Acquisitions Fund, 1985

Dramatic and exotic figures in faraway places are common in the vivid, colorful works Marguerite Thompson Zorach favored in her early career.  The figures here are engulfed in a flurry of orange, green, red, and lavender, giving the scene an other-worldly feel as the nude participants reach toward the mountain summit in a mysterious ritual.   

Painted in Paris in 1909, Rites of Spring reflects Zorach’s immersion in the Parisian art world, particularly in the work of Henri Matisse, who painted similar pastoral scenes in the years leading up to Zorach’s work.  Shortly after completing this painting, Zorach shifted to a different palette and a more cubist-influenced style, in tune with the wave of modernism in the Parisian avant-garde.