The Wallace Collection

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Shepherd Piping to a Shepherdess
  • François Boucher (1703 - 1770)
  • Shepherd Piping to a Shepherdess
  • France
  • c. 1747 - 1750
  • Painting
  • Oil on canvas
  • Image size: 94 x 142 cm
  • P399
  • Landing
Further Reading
  • The painting is an example of the pastoral in Boucher's work from the late 1740s (see P385). In an Arcadian landscape a shepherd plays the flute to a shepherdess who is about to repay his efforts with a crown of flowers and the reward of her affections.
    Boucher repeatedly took his inspiration from the immensely popular pantomimes of Charles-Simon Favart who created a contemporary Parisian version of arcadian literature. At the opéra comique, where Boucher was both set designer and a keen member of the audience, Favart’s musical dramas combined Arcadian idealism and aristocratic sensibilities with the rustic characters of popular theatre. This painting might illustrate scene V of Favart’s 'Les Vendanges de Tempé' (The Harvest in the Vale of Tempé) of 1745, which opens with the shepherd playing the flute to his sweetheart Lisette - or it is inspired by Favart in more general terms. It was probably painted c.1747-50 in the aftermath of Favart’s stage success. The original, irregular shape of the canvas suggests that the picture originally formed part of a decorative scheme. Neither circumstances of the original commision nor companion pieces are known.