X. A Cave with Bacchanals
Entered May 2015
Althorp, collection of John Spencer, First Earl Spencer (1734-1783); A Catalogue of the Pictures of Althorp taken in the Year 1750, Great Parlour: “Ditto [A Drunken feast by Watteau]. Its companion.”
Althorp, collection of George John Spencer, Second Earl Spencer (1758-1834); Catalogue of the Pictures at Althorp made in November 1802, Drawing room: “A Cave with Bacchanals [ . . . ] Watteau”.
Garlick, “A Catalogue of the Pictures at Althorp” (1974-76), 106, 117.
This picture and its pendant, A Drunken Feast, were listed in the 1750 and 1802 inventories of Althorp but not in the subsequent Althorp inventories. How they left the collection or were reclassified is not known. Likewise, we do not know what the pictures looked like and who the actual painter was. Judging by their titles, it seems improbable that they were by Watteau.
In the eighteenth century the Spencers owned other paintings that were wrongly attributed to Watteau: the pendants Arlequin, Pierrot et Scapin and Pour prouver que cette belle. Their pictures are only copies of originals now at Waddesdon Manor and the Wallace Collection.