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Les Divertissements champêtres

Entered March 2020

Fig 1

London, Wallace Collection, inv. P391

Oil on canvas

127.2 x 191.7 cm

 

ALTERNATIVE TITLES

Amusements champêtres

Fête galante in a Wooded Landscape

Fête Galante in a Wooded Landscape with the Sculpture of a Seated Nude Woman

Fête in a Park

The Garden Party

Picnic Party

 

PROVENANCE

Paris, collection of Racine du Jonquoy (maître d’hôtel de Charles, duc de Berry, trésorier des ponts et chaussés, receveur général des finances pour la généralité d’Alençon ). Racine du Jonquoy’s ownership of Les Divertissements champêtres is only by implication: when the pendant painting, Le Rendez-vous de chasse, was engraved in 1731 for the Oeuvre gravé, it bore the legend ”Ce Tableau est dans le Cabinet de Mr Racine du Jonquoy.”

Paris, collection of (Joseph Hyacinthe Francois de Paule de Rigaud, comte de Vaudreuil (1740-1817). His sale, Paris, November 26,1787, lot 59: “ANTOINE WATTEAU . . . Deux Tableaux: l’un représente un repos de chasse à l’entrée d’un bois . . .  L’autre représente, dans l’intérieur d’un parc, près de quarante figures, hommes, femmes & enfans, les uns sont en repos , d’autres s’occupent avec des fleurs, tandis que plusieurs dansent. On peut assurer qu’il n’existe rien de plus beau ni de plus capital de ce Maître; la finesse du dessin, la beauté inimitable du coloris sont au-dessus des éloges. Hauteur 4 pieds, largeur 6 pieds. T.” The pendants sold for 4,800 livres.

Paris, with Jean-Baptiste Pierre Lebrun. His sale, Paris, April 11, 1791, lot 196: “ANTOINE WATTEAU . . .  l’un représente un repos de chasse à l’entrée d’un bois . . .  L’autre représente, dans l’intérieur d’un parc, près de quarante figures; hommes, femmes & enfans, les uns sont en repos , d’autres s’occupent avec des fleurs, tandis que plusieurs dansent. On peut assurer qu’il n’y a rien de plus beau ni de plus capital de ce Maître. La finesse du dessin, la beauté inimitable du coloris sont au-dessus des éloges.—Hauteur, 4 pieds; largeur, 6. T. Ils viennent de la vente de M.***, lundi26 novembre 1787, no 59: vendus 4800 liv. Nous les avons achetés ci devant 10,000 liv. sans bordure.”

Paris, collection of Baron van Balle. His sale, Paris, April 27, 1793, lot 35: ANTOINE WATTEAU . . .  Deux Tableaux, l’un sujet de retour de chasse à l’entrée d’un bois . . .  l’autre offre la vue d’un parc, orné de différens grouppes d’hommes, de femmes & d’enfans, les uns sont en repos, d’autres s’occupent avec des fleurs, tandis que plusieurs amusent à danser. Ces deux capitales compositions réunissent la finesse du dessin & le coloris le plus sédisant qu’on puisse désirer dans les plus belles productions de ce grand Peintre, qui a fait distinguer l‘Ecole Françoise. Ils ont été vendus en vente publique 10,000 liv. Haut. 4 pieds larg. 6. T.”

Paris, collection of Alexandre Louis Roëttiers de Montaleau(?). His sale and others, Paris, July 29. 1802, lot 172; “Watteau (Antoine) . . . Deux Tableaux offrant des compositions capitals de ce grand coloriste de notre Ecole. Ils représentent des points de vue de forêts, et nombre de personnages dans le costume du tems. L’un est gravé sous le titre des Amusemens champêtres, l’autre sur celui du Retour de chasse. Ces ouvrages capitaux, et du plus agréable détail, sont de cette touche spirituelle qui a toujours distingué leur auteur. Sur toile haut de 116, large de 195 c.” Sold for 2,400 francs to Bon-Thomas Henry according to an annotated copy of the sale catalogue in the Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Dokumentatie.

Paris, with Joseph Guillaume Godefroy Colomb Emler. His sale, Paris, October 30, 1809, lot 37: “Wateau (Antoine) . . . Deux beaux Paysages de la plus belle ordonnance et de la plus belle exécution, représentant des points de vue de Forêts, l’un par son Feuillage léger et frais annonce le retour de printems et avec lui les jeux et les plaisirs champêtres; un grand nombre de figures  groupées sur différens plans, animent et enrichessent cette production. Ici des cavaliers content fleurettes à des dames assises sur l’herbe, plus loin une Musette et un Haut-Bois règle la cadence; à droite des enfans harcellent un chien, et jusques dans l’extrême lointain on distingue des personnages . . .  Haut. 48 po. Larg. 71 po. T.” Sold for 1,250 francs to Charles Simon for cardinal  Joseph Fesch.

Rome, collection of Cardinal Fesch, 1841 catalogue of his collection, cat. 1827.  His sale, Rome, Palazzo Ricci, March 17-18, 1845, lot 453: “[WATTEAU (ANTOINE)] . . . Amusements Champêtres: Une nombreuse société s’est disséminé sur les délicieux tapis de verdure qu’obragent les grands arbres d’un parc. Le charme du lieu et les joyeux accords d’une musique champêtre semblent convier les plus jeunes à la danse; cependant, jusqu’ à présent, un seul couple a cédé à cet attrait et foule l’herbe en cadence: presque tous donnent la préférence à la promenade ou à la conversation. A travers de grands arbres, on découvre dans la campagne une belle fabrique qui par son voisinage, parait être dépendante du parc
     Sur le premier plan, un jeune seigneur se tient debout devant le piédestal d’une statue de marbre, qui représente une baigneuse. Il porte des culottes courtes, un tes, un petit manteau de soie noir sur l’épaule gauche, et une fraise au cou; sa têle est coiffée d’une toque de velours rouge. Presque à ses pieds, un jeune cavalier, dont le costume parfaitement analogue au sien n’en diffère que par la couleur, est étendu sur l’herbe auprès d’une jolie personne qui, assise et légèrement penchée vers lui, l’écoule avec un certain embarras que trahit son regard baissé, autant que le mouvement de l’éventail qu’elle fait jouer dans ses mains. Une autre jeune dame, assise à côté d’elle, attache à son corset une rose que vient de lui offrir une jeune personne agenouillée devant elle, et qui, chargée d’une corbeille pleine de fleurs, semble avoir mission d’en distribuer à toute la société. Le costume de nos deux belles est à la fois riche et gracieux; leurs robes sont de soie; et l’une d’elles porte encore par dessus une sorte de peignoir sans manches, ou pelisse longue également en soie. De beaux cheveux d’un blond cendré sont relevés sur le sommet de leurs têtes sans autre ornement. Aux pieds de la dernière de ces dames, est assis un troisième cavalier qui ne le cède en rien pour l’élégance et la bonne mine aux deux précédents. Son manteau de velours violet entoure gracieusement sa taille et son large pourpoint; il porte une toque de velours bleu, et sa main droite vient avec grâce se poser sur sa hanche. A une certaine distance de ce cavalier, deux petites filles jouent sur le gazon avec un beau chien danois qu’elles conduisent à l’aide d’un ruban.
     Au second plan, on remarque d’abord douze personnes réunies en un seul groupe: ce sont les deux musiciens dont l’un joue de la vielle, et l’autre de la clarinette; quelques paysans; de jeunes élégantes du genre des premières, avec leurs cavaliers, et enfin les deux danseurs dont nous avons parlé. Mais six autres groupes animent encore l’immense étendue du bois, et, par la diversité de leurs costumes et de leurs poses, forment avec les masses de feuillage et de verdure qu’ils coupent en tous sens, le plus délicieux contraste.
     T.H. 4 p. 0 p. 0 1. - L. 6 p. 0 p. 0 1.”
Together with Le Rendez-vous de chasse (lot 452), the pendants were sold for an amount that has been variously given as 5,000 francs; 35,000 francs (according to Hédouin); also 13,000 francs.   

Paris, collection of Horsin Déon; sold to the duc de Morny for 60,000 francs.                    

Paris, collection of Charles Auguste Louis Joseph, duc de Morny (1811-1865; statesman). His sale, London, Phillips, June 20, 1848, lot 101: “WATTEAU (Antoine) Les Champs Elysées. From the Collection of Cardinal Fesch. Engraved. Canvas 6 ft. 3 by 4 ft. 3” Bought in. Sold privately to Sir Richard Seymour, 4th Marquess of Hertford, prior to 1852 as noted on page 5 of the introduction to the May 24, 1852 catalogue of the duc de Morny’s collection in Paris.

Bequeathed to Lord Hertford’s illegitimate son, Richard Wallace,1st Baronet, and then by descent to Wallace’s widow, Julie Amélie Charlotte Castelnau, who donated the collection to the nation in 1897.

 

EXHIBITIONS

Manchester, Art Treasures, 1857, cat. 27 (Watteau, Fête Champêtre, lent by the Marquis of Hertford).

London, Bethnal Green, Paintings, Porcelain, Bronzes (1872), cat. 402 (Antoine Watteau, Picnic Party, lent by Sir Richard Wallace).

London, Royal Academy, Old Masters (1889) cat. 91 (as Watteau, The Garden Party, lent by Sir Richard Wallace).

 

SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY

Waagen, Treasures of Art in Great Britain (1854-57), 2: 156.

Thoré-Bürger, “Exposition de tableaux” (1860), 269.

Dilke, French Painters (1899), 85, 90.

Spielmann, The Wallace Collection (1900), 59.

London, Wallace Collection, Catalogue of the Oil Paintings (1904), cat. 391.

Zimmermann, Watteau (1912), pl. 98.

London, Wallace Collection, Catalogue (1920),  cat. 391.

Dacier, Vuaflart, and Hérold, Jean de Jullienne et les graveurs, 2: 35, 96; 3: under cat. 213.

Réau, “Watteau” (1928), cat. 159.

Adhémar, Watteau (1950), cat. 182.

Brookner, Watteau (1967), pl. 40.

Macchia and Montagni, L’opera completa di Watteau (1968), cat. 183.

Ferré, Watteau, 1972, cat. B 49.

Posner, Lady at Her Toilette (1973), 79-80.

Seerveld, "Telltale Statues” (1980-81), 172-74.

Roland Michel, Watteau (1981), cat. 229.

Roland Michel, Watteau (1984), 89, 160, 198, 204, 210, 221, 229-30, 270-71.

Posner, Watteau (1984), 174-76, 201.

Edwards, “Watteau and the Dance" (1987), 222-23.

Gétreau, “Watteau et la musique” (1987), 243-44.

Le Coat, "Watteau et l'imaginaire social" (1987), 183.

Edwards, “Watteau and the Dance” (1987), 222-23 n. 25.

Gétreau, “Watteau et la musique” (1987), 243-44.

Grasselli, Drawings of Watteau (1987), 356-59.

Ingamells, Wallace Collection, French (1989), 358--60

Vidal, Watteau’s Painted Conversations (1992), 111-13.

Rosenberg and Prat, Watteau, Catalogue raisonné des dessins (1996), cat. 268, 269333, 446, 447, 467, 468, 507, 527, 528, 587, G32, R558.

Wintermute, Watteau and His World (1999), 58-59.

Börsch-Supan, Antoine Watteau (2000), 95-98.

Cohen, Art, Dance, and the Body (2000), 242-47. 

Temperini, Watteau (2002), 105, cat. 93.

Duffy and Hedley The Wallace Collection Pictures (2004), 470-71.

Dinelli-Graziani, “Le cardinal Fesch, amateur” (2007), 42-43.

Lauterbach, Watteau (2008), 83.

Temperini, Watteau (2002), 105, cat. 93.

Glorieux, Watteau (2011), 348.

Whittingham, “Controversial Treatment” (2011).

Vogtherr, Watteau at the Wallace Collection (2011), cat. 3 and passim.

Wile, Watteau (2014), 322- 23, 325.

 

RELATED DRAWINGS

Fig 2

Watteau, Les Divertissements champêtres (detail).

a

Watteau, Two Studies of Women (detail), red chalk and graphite. Private collection.

fig

Watteau, Two Studies of Seated Women (detail), red chalk and graphite. London, British Museum.

b

Watteau, Study of a Woman Seated on the Ground, red and white chalk, 14.6 x 20 cm. Paris, private collection.

A surprisingly large number of extant studies were used for the principal figures in the foreground of Les Divertissements champêtres. While the study for the man at the left of the group has not survived, the woman next to him, seated on the ground and holding a basket of flowers, was based on a study of a seated woman holding a large bowl, one of two figures on a  sheet in a private collection (Rosenberg and Prat 527). The woman in the middle, holding roses to her bodice, was studied on a sheet in the British Museum (Rosenberg and Prat 528). The remaining woman in this group was taken from a drawing in a Parisian private collection (Rosenberg and Prat 468). 


fig

Watteau, Four Studies of a Reclining Man (detail), red chalk. Lausanne, private collection.

Watteau, Study of a Standing Man, red, black, and white chalk, 28.2 x 17.9 cm. Vaduz, private collection.

The man reclining on the ground at the right, his cape trailing behind him, derives from a sheet of four such studies in a Swiss private collection (Rosenberg and Prat 268). Finally, at the far right, the standing man with his cape flung over his shoulder was taken from a drawing in another Swiss private collection (Rosenberg and Prat 447).


fig

Watteau, Studies of Three Hands (detail), red and black chalk, graphite. London, British Museum.  

Watteau, Four Studies of Hands, red, black, and white chalk, graphite, 15.3 x11.4 cm. Private collection.

Several studies of hands have been associated with these foreground figures. One of three such studies on a single page (Rosenberg and Prat 507) was used for the man seated on the grass, to the left of the group. His hand is curiously bent back at the wrist.

Four studies of hands in a private collection (Rosenberg and Prat 524) also served for this painting. The pair at the top of the page was used for the rightmost woman; the fan that she holds is barely indicated in the drawing. The hand holding a cane at the lower right of the drawing was employed for the man standing at the right of the painting. The hand drawn palms down was used for the man at the lower right of the painting. There he rests it on his companion’s skirt.  That all three of these studies were used for the one painting seems to indicate that the drawing was made specifically for Les Divertissements champêtres—a rare moment when we can observe the painter’s working method. 


fig

Watteau, Les Divertissements champêtres (detail).

fig

François Boucher after Watteau, Study of a Young Girl, engraving, Figures de différents caractères, plate 85.

Watteau, Study of a Child Seen from Behind, red chalk, 13.3 x 10 cm. London, British Museum.

Both children in the left foreground of the painting can also be traced to Watteau’s drawings. The standing child was taken from a lost drawing which was recorded as plate 85 of the Figures de différents caractères. The kneeling child, seen from behind, was taken from a drawing in the British Museum (Rosenberg and Prat 333).

Fig 2

Watteau, Les Divertissements champêtres (detail).

Many of the figures in the background can similarly be traced to Watteau’s drawings. Although they were painted rapidly and with less detail than their counterparts in the foreground, nonetheless, their specificity is remarkable. In contrast, the comparable figures in Les Champs Élisées, the smaller version of this composition, are just blurs of paint and forcefully establish the priority of Les Divertissements champêtres.

fig

Watteau, Two Studies (detail), red chalk. Paris, Musée Cognacq-Jay.

Watteau, Study of a Seated Woman, graphite and red chalk, 15.5 x 9.4 cm. London, British Museum.

At the left side of the background group, a couple walks into the composition. Although partially hidden by tree trunks, enough of the woman can be seen to determine that she is traceable to a drawing in the Musée Cognacq-Jay (Rosenberg and Prat 446). Farther to the right, a woman seated on the ground corresponds to one in a drawing in the British Museum (Rosenberg and Prat 587).


fig

Watteau, Studies of Three Seated Women (detail), red and black chalk, graphite. London, Courtauld Institute Galleries.

Watteau (and Pater), Studies of a Recumbent Man and a Man’s Head (detail), red chalk, red and gray-green wash. Munich, Staatliche Graphische Sammlung.

Toward the center background of the painting, a couple relaxes on the ground, she with a shawl over her head, he recumbent and extending his arm in a mannered gesture behind him. The woman originated in a charming study in the Courtauld Institute (Rosenberg and Prat 451). The reclining man was based on a drawing in Munich (Rosenberg and Prat 269)), or, more probably, a counterproof of the drawing, since the man appears in reverse in the painting. This reversal allows the couple’s heads to incline toward each other.


Fig 2

Watteau, Two Studies of a Woman Seated on the Ground (detail), red, black, and white chalk. Bayonne, Musée Bonnat.


To our right of the dancing couple, a woman seated on the ground, watching them dance, can be traced to a drawing in the Musée Bonnat (Rosenberg and Prat 531).

 

REMARKS

Because Les Divertissements champêtres was not engraved for Jean de Jullienne’s Oeuvre gravé, its title has varied considerably. However, Jullienne commissioned an engraving after Watteau’s smaller version of the same composition, which he published under the title Les Champs Elisées, but this has caused additional confusion. Complicating matters still further, the 4th marquess of Hertford bought both the small and the large versions of the composition, and the two are now in the Wallace Collection.

Fig 2

Watteau, Le Rendez-vous de chasse, oil on canvas, 124.5 x 189 cm. London, Wallace Collection.

The history of Les Divertissements champêtres is closely bound to Le Rendez-vous de chasse. They differ slightly in measurements (Les Divertissements champêtres is larger by only a few centimeters in each direction) and, despite some current demurals, they have always been considered to be pendants. When Le Rendez-vous de chasse was engraved c. 1731 for the Jullienne Oeuvre grave, the caption stated, ”Ce tableau est dans le Cabinet de Mr Racine du Jonquoy,” and it is reasonable to assume that he was also the owner of the pendant, Les Divertissements champêtres.

Since the early eighteenth century the two paintings have passed together from one collector to another as acknowledged pendants. They were briefly separated when they were in the collection of the duc de Morny. At a London sale of his collection in 1848 they were included as separate but consecutive lots. But after they found no buyer, de Morny sold Les Divertissements champêtres separately to the marquess of Hertford. In 1852 de Morny put Le Rendez vous de chasse up again at auction, where it still went unsold. At a third auction, this in 1865,  the painting was bought by none other than  the marquess of Hertford! Thus, the pendant  paintings were reunited. It should be noted that several listings of the provenance of Les Divertissements champêteres, including the Wallace Collection’s various compilations, err in the manner that they cite the 1852 and 1865 sales.

a

Watteau, Les Divertissements champêtres.

b

Watteau, Les Champs Elisées, oil on walnut panel, 31.4 x 40.6 cm. London, Wallace Collection.

As has been noted, Les Divertissements champêtres is closely related to a painting with essentially the same composition, namely Les Champs Elisées. The histories of the two paintings were separate until the late nineteenth century, at which time each was bought by Lord Hertford and now both are housed in the Wallace Collection. Of the two, Les Champs Elisées is much smaller, approximately one-fourth the size of Les Divertissements champêtres. Six of the seven adults in the foreground of Les Divertissements champêtres have counterparts in Les Champs EliséesOnly the figure at the left of this group is different: the figure is female in Les Divertissements champêtres, male in Les Champs Elisées. The children at the left sides of the composition are totally different, as are the statues at the right and some of the small figures in the background.

The intriguing question, of course, is which version was executed first. General wisdom maintains that a small painting precedes a large version. Zimmerman, Réau, and most early scholars have presumed that Les Divertissements Champêtres was an enlarged replica of the smaller painting. Brookner described the painting as an “essentially small composition blown up to excessive scale.” As Roland Michel wrote about these and other such pairs of paintings: “if they can be dated, the smaller was the first to be executed.” As Grasselli stated, “scholars agree that Les Champs-Elysées, the smaller version, was made before the much larger Divertissements champêtres.” Critics have been unusually positive in praising the fresh brushwork and quality of Les Champs Elisées, and damning the uninspired quality of the larger repetition. Whereas Posner praised the “warm and languorous, idyll called Les Champs Elysées,” he described Les Divertissements champêtres as “less successful” and possessing “uninspired handling and labored description of forms.” Börsch-Supan wrote, almost without reflecting, “The Champs-Elysées . . . and the large composition Country Amusements . . . that developed from it.“ Likewise, Whittingham wrote that Watteau painted Les Divertissements champêtres “mechanically,” and described it as “an enlarged version of the much more pleasing ‘Les Champrs Elisées.’”

Despite this unanimity of opinion, after the laboratory examination of the paintings around 2010, Christopher Vogtherr noted that x-rays uncovered many pentimenti in Les Divertissements champêtres, and the relative absence of pentimenti in Les Champs Elisées. His conclusion was that the former picture was executed first, and in it Watteau resolved problematic areas. Once the solutions were established, he carried them over to the second, smaller version. Also to be underscored are the observations made above in relation to the figures in the background. They are executed carefully and with considerable detail, showing their close dependence on his drawings, whereas the corresponding figures in Les Champs Elisées are rendered sketchily, second-hand reflections of Watteau’s original studies. They are explicable as copies from Les Divertissements champêtres, but the reverse could not have been true; they could not have been the models for the figures in Les Champs Elisées. Such internal evidence points to the priority of Les Divertissements champêtres.

There is consensus that Les Divertissements champêtres was executed late in the artist’s career, but an exact date remains moot. Adhémar proposed the end of 1716; Macchia and Montagni, Roland Michel, and Glorieux, suggested 1718; Posner opted for 1719-20; Börsch-Supan believed it should be dated c. 1720; and Brookner dated the painting still later, c. 1720-21. In an encompassing manner, Vogtherr and Wile listed the painting as c. 1719-21. There evidenly has been a growing tendency to place the painting in Watteau’s very last years.


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