The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
A Gallant Conversation (Conversation galante)
  • Nicolas Lancret (1690 - 1743)
  • A Gallant Conversation (Conversation galante)
  • France
  • 1719
  • Painting
  • Oil on canvas
  • Image size: 68.3 x 53.5 cm
    Made up to, Object size: 73.7 x 58 cm
  • P422
  • Small Drawing Room
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • The commedia dell’arte characters Mezzetin, Pierrot and Colombine, the last two wearing matching silver-grey costumes, are seated with other figures in contemporary dress in a parkland setting. The open-air setting, elegantly dressed figures and the mixture of contemporary fashion and theatre costumes are typical for the nascent Fête galante.

    This painting might be one of two reception pieces which Lancret produced to be admitted as painter of Fêtes galantes to the Academy in 1719. An engraving after the painting was made by Jacque-Philippe Le bas, but the dimensions indicated differ. It is therefore not clear whether the Wallace Collection painting is Lancret's actual reception piece or another version of the composition. Lancret was the first painter who was admitted with this speciality, after Watteau had been admitted as a history painter in 1717.

    'A Gallant Conversation (Conversation galante)' demonstrates Lancret’s early debt to Watteau in subject matter and handling before Lancret developed his own, highly original style and approach. The group on the left is directly taken from Watteau's 'Voulez-vous triompher des Belles' (P387). It has recently been suggested that Lancret worked very briefly with Watteau.