Martin van Meytens (1695 - 1770)
- A Scene in a garden
- c. 1740 - 1750
- Painted on ivory
- Image size: 5.7 x 8 cm
Frame size: 7.6 x 9.8 cm
- Inscription: 'Charlier / No. 2587'
- Boudoir Cabinet
Images & Media
- The miniature depicts a group of four people – two men and two women – in the open air. A trellis pavilion in the left background indicates that the scene is set in a garden. The main characters are dressed in pastoral but elegant costume. The man on the left has put his musette aside. The musette (a variant on the bag pipe) had become a court instrument in late seventeenth-century France and was a stock instrument for the pastoral genre. As such it was also depicted regularly in portraits with pastoral overtones and in fêtes galantes.
The elements of this scene derive from fêtes galantes by Antoine Watteau (1684-1721) and, even more directly, Nicolas Lancret (1690-1743). Lancret’s Midday in the National Gallery, London, is just one of a number of works by the painter which could have served as a model for several elements used in the miniature.
Whereas the fête galante elements in the miniature are undeniable, the individual faces of the four characters suggest that it was intended as a group portrait in pastoral guise. Portraits using the formula of the fête galante showing the characters dressed in pastoral style were common in the second and third quarters of the eighteenth century. They conveyed friendship and a sense of carefree sociability, more usual in more private types of portraiture. Miniature portraits often had a very similar purpose.
An old inscription on the back wrongly attributes the miniature to Jacques Charlier.