Les Divertissements champêtres (copy 1)
Entered April 2020
Oil on canvas
Paris, with Galerie Demotte (probably Lucien Demotte, 1906-1934, or another member of the Demotte family).
This painting is known to me through photographs on file at the Witt Library, London. When the painting was with Demotte it was given to Watteau which, in one sense, is accurate, for the figures are a direct transcription of those in the background of Watteau’s Les Divertissements champêtres. The execution of Demotte’s painting reveals, however, not only that it was not painted by Watteau but that it was done by his student and assistant, Jean-Baptiste Pater. The quality of the faces especially the woman with the black shawl over her head, and the man on the ground behind the dancing couple, betray Pater’s hand.
Pater’s relation to Les Divertissements champêtres is intriguing. There are only a few copies truly by Pater after his master’s compositions (the copy of Les Plaisirs du bal in the Wallace Collection, for example) and they suggest the sort of work that the young assistant did while still in his master’s employ or shortly thereafter. But the history of Pater’s emergence from under Watteau’s shadow is yet to be written.
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