• Old Master & 19th Century Pain auction at Christies

    Sale 2282

    Old Master & 19th Century Paintings, Drawings, & Watercolors

    27 January 2010, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 34

    François Boucher (Paris 1703-1770)

    Pastorale au flûteur

    Price Realised  


    François Boucher (Paris 1703-1770)
    Pastorale au flûteur
    brown camaïeu on paper laid down on canvas
    17 x 13¾ in. (43.2 x 35 cm.)

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    The present lot is an oil sketch design for a tapestry which apparently was never woven and one of a pair -- its companion depicted Diana and her Companions -- that once belonged to Maurice Fenaille, the French collector and expert on the Royal Manufactury of the Gobelins. For most of his career, Boucher worked in close collaboration with the two main tapestry manufactories of his time, that of Beauvais, which was independent, and that of the Gobelins, which was under royal patronage and run by the Marquis de Marigny, Madame de Pompadour's brother. A close analysis of their iconography, as well as the extreme refinement of the execution of these sketches, allowed Alastair Laing to date them to the late 1750s, when the artist stopped providing designs for Beauvais and dedicated himself to the production of the Gobelins.

    Alexandre Ananoff dated these works to 1742 on the grounds of their compositions being very close in spirit to those of a series of tapestries called Les Fêtes italiennes, woven in the 1740s. These were Beauvais productions and contributed largely, with the series of L'Histoire de Psyché, to the success of that manufactory: they established a new type of pastoral subject, depicting young people gathering in the midst of lush vegetation near half-hidden classical ruins and fountains, ideally suited to the art of tapestry (see E. Standen, 'Fragments d'Opéra, a series of Beauvais tapestries after Boucher', Metropolitan of Art Journal, XXI, 1986, pp. 136-137).

    Several drawings relate to the present composition: a chalk study of a seated girl holding a basket of flowers at the British Museum, a gift to Sir Joshua Reynolds from the artist himself in 1768; and another study for the central group of figures, now lost but known through a counter-proof which was sold at Christie's, New York, 10 January 1996, lot 207. That Boucher felt the need to study the effect of his general composition in reverse from an offset may suggest that he worked with Beauvais in mind, a manufactory which for technical reasons reversed the direction of the original designs. Yet the drawing is executed in brown chalk and the artist's use of this medium is generally dated from his later years and not the 1740s.

    It is the iconography which most certainly secures the dating of the work to the later 1750s. The presence of a relief on the side of the fountain coincides with a composition known through two engravings after Boucher's Autel de l'Amitié, one by Demarteau (see Jean-Richard 643) and one by Lalive de Jully. It is a reference to Madame de Pompadour's cult of friendship, which she promoted after 1754, after the King and she had agreed on parting.

    We are grateful to Alastair Laing and François Borne for their help in cataloguing this work.


    Maurice Fenaille (1855-1937?), Paris, by 1910.
    with Artemis Fine Arts, New York and London, 2002.


    M. Fenaille, François Boucher, Paris, 1925, p. 59.
    A. Ananoff, François Boucher, Paris and Lausanne, 1976, I, p. 332, no. 219, and cited under no. 218.
    A. Ananoff, L'opera completa di Boucher, Milan, 1980, p. 103, no. 225, and cited under no. 224.


    Berlin, Königliche Akademie der Künste, Ausstellung von Werken Französischer Kunst des XVIII. Jahrhunderts, 26 January-6 March 1910, no. 141 (deluxe edition of catalogue, no. 8).
    Paris, Jean Charpentier, François Boucher, 9 June-10 July 1932, no. 64, also cited under no. 18.
    Copenhagen, Palais de Charlottenborg, L'art français au XVIIIe siècle, 25 August-6 October 1935, no. 19.
    New York, Artemis Fine Arts, Old Master Drawings, 21 January-8 February 2002, no. 23.