The figure discussed here is located in the right-hand Fleury Tableau painting. Research article HERE
Close up of the figure as it appears in the painting compared to a cutout of the figure.
Even with a close-up image of the figure it is still unclear if it is a male or female. The splash of green paint between the legs could be part of the background. This could indicate the figure is wearing trousers, and so a male: women did not commonly were trousers during Sauniere's era, or it just evidence of sloppy painting. The background would probably have been carried out before the figure was painted over it. White paint has been applied to the hands, is it bad highlighting or something else?
If the object looked more like a shovel, which unfortunately it doesn't, digging would explain why the figure is bending over.
The hand held object.
Apart from the identity of the figure, the object held in their hand, one would assume, is also of high importance. At first glance it seems identifiable as an umbrella. Why would Saunière place an unknown figure holding an umbrella in the Fleury Tableau? Perhaps it was used as a sun shade. There is a photo holding an umbrella.
Bérenger Saunière holding an umber ella
Look closely at the hand holding the object, the handle, if it is an umbrella, is facing the wrong way, it should be facing towards the body. There is also a second brown line going over the hand which could indicate a second loop or handle. Could it be a sack and not an umbrella.? Possibly. The line on the ground beneath the object, seems not to be part of whatever it is the figure is holding but maybe an arrow or a line scratched in the ground. Is it a clue or just my imagination? It is too thin and in the wrong direction to be a shadow. If it is a sack the figure is holding it would tie in nicely with the bag of gold from the Fleury tableau.
In conclusion the object is not detailed enough to say for certain what it is.
If anyone has an idea what the object is, or a possible identity of the figure, or why Saunière choose to include it, please email me and I will add it to this page.
I have received a few emails suggesting that the object held could be a bird. Looking at the image with this in mind, it is a plausible suggestion, as we know that Sauniere used to go hunting to put food on his table.
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