X. Fetes Champetres
Entered November 2014
Oil on canvas
87.7 x 95.7 cm
London, Christie’s South Kensington, June 21, 1990, lot 144: “After Jean Antoine Watteau / Fetes Champetres / unframed / 31 x 37 ¾ in. (78.7 x 95.7 cm.) / £2,000-4,000”
Although this pastiche was said to be after Watteau, it has nothing to do with his art. Rather, it is derived from two unrelated compositions by two different masters: Nicolas Lancret and François Boucher. The Pierrot character to the right of center making unwanted advances toward his female companion in an unseemly gesture is taken from Lancret’s Conversation galante, not from the painting itself, which is now in the Wallace Collection but, as the reversed directions show, from the engraving that Jacques Philippe Le Bas executed in 1743 after Lancret’s composition. On the other hand, the guitarist and the woman with a song book, as well as the fountain with putti and the propped-up guitar in the lower right corner are all derived from La Musique, an engraving by Pierre Aveline after Boucher. As Boucher’s composition is related to a 1737 commission, this establishes a terminus post-quem for Fetes Champetres.
The same painter who executed Fetes Champetres may have been responsible for another that in the nineteenth century was undoubtedly attributed to Watteau, a work referred to today as A Couple Making Music and wrongly attributed to the school of Pater. This second painting is related just to the engraving after Boucher and copies it more fully, especially in regard to the landscape setting. As best as can be determined from photographs, the two pictures seem to be by the same hand.