These young women have come out from the city one hot summer's day to cool off by the waterside. The realism of this very sensual scene is manifest in the frankness of the faces and postures.
This very modern subject prefigures the future popularity of the banks of the Seine, celebrated by the Impressionists a generation later.
This work, unique in its modern subject and unusually large format for a genre scene, broke away from the conventions of the day. Courbet, always a provocateur, unleashed a critical scandal by exhibiting the Young Ladiesat the Salon in 1857.