The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
La conversation intéressante (The Interesting Conversation)
  • Jean-Baptiste Pater (1695 - 1736)
  • La conversation intéressante (The Interesting Conversation)
  • France
  • c.1730-1733
  • Painting
  • Oil on canvas
  • Image size: 56.7 x 45.7 cm
  • P386
  • Small Drawing Room
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • The painting is a beautiful example of the Fête galante, and can be dated on stylistic grounds to c. 1730/1733. It comes from a set of four (with P383, P397 and P400) that includes two musical scenes and two depictions of games that were probably meant as pairs of pendants. Versions of only the two musical scenes exist in Schloss Sanssouci in Potsdam. Vertical scenes are relatively rare in Pater's work, and one can assume that this choice was related to the series of four that might have been painted for a specific context. The set was engraved by Pierre Fillœul 1739, each print accompanied by a sentimental poem by Charles Moraine interpreting the amorous subject matter of the picture. The verses which accompany La conversation intéressante draw a contrast between the lady inclined to love seated on the ground and the ambivalent attitude of the lady on the swing. Moraine's poem does not necessarily reflect Pater's original intention but can help to understand the perception of the scene in the eighteenth century. In the eighteenth century swing was seen as a symbol of the changing nature of love, in particular of women.