The Wallace Collection

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Les Malheurs de l'amour (The Sorrows of Love)
  • Louis-Léopold Boilly (1761 - 1845)
  • Les Malheurs de l'amour (The Sorrows of Love)
  • France
  • 1790
  • Painting
  • Oil on canvas
  • Image size: 45 x 55 cm
  • P479
  • Boudoir
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Part of a series of eleven genre scenes painted for the Avignon nobleman Antoine Joseph François Xavier Calvet de Lapalun (see P473), Boilly's early masterpieces. All eleven scenes evolve around love in its different aspects and are set in an upper-middle class context. The characters are types as they could also appear on stage. The series does not tell a consistent, continuous story. Instead, it presents different variations and constellations. P479 was originally paired with 'Les Quatre ages de la vie (The four Ages of Life)', possibly a painting in the Dallas Museum of Art.
    Boilly’s scenes continue a tradition which goes back at least to the 1730s: fashionable, contemporary interior scenes with easily recognisable situations played by stock characters. The series for Calvet de Lapalun became the classic example of this typical eighteenth-century genre in Boilly’s work. It is understandable that they were later used to accuse the painter of his Ancien Régime leanings. In fact, this series can be considered the last highpoint of a long tradition spanning the reigns of Louis XV and Louis XVI. Boilly’s paintings for Calvet de Lapalun closely emulate the work of the Dutch Fijnschilders, in particular by Gerrit Dou, Gabriel Metsu, Gerard ter Borch and Gaspar Netscher.