François Boucher (1703 - 1770)
- Pastoral With a Couple near a Fountain
- Oil on canvas
- Image size: 259.5 x 198.6 cm
- Signature: 'f. Boucher- / 1749'
- With its pendant, P482, the painting is one of Boucher’s most ambitious works in the pastoral mode. Boucher continued the pastoral, utopian mode of Watteau's Fêtes galantes, anchoring them more clearly in an idealised, Italian setting. By exchanging Watteau's contemporary Parisians with idealised shepherds and shjepherdesses, he further removed the scenes from a recognizable contemporary reality, transposing them into an entirely imaginary world. While Watteau produced cabinet pictures, usually of a small size, Boucher often employed the pastoral for large-scale room decorations such as in this case.
The two pictures originally belonged to the Daniel-Charles Trudaine, who worked as governor of the Auvergne, then was put in charge of roads and bridges in France and extended and modernised the network considerably. From 1745 he instigated and supervised the production of a new street atlas of France. Trudaine hung the two paintings in the grand salon on the ground floor of his château at Montigny–Lencoup near Fontainebleau.
The scene was inspired by the theatrical characters of the immensely popular pantomimes of Boucher's friend, Charles-Simon Favart. At the Opéra Comique, where Boucher was both set designer and a keen member of the audience, Favart’s musical dramas combined the Arcadian idealism and aristocratic sensibilities of pastoral poetry with the rustic, sentimental characters of popular theatre. Here we see a recreation of scene VI of Favart’s pantomime 'Les Vendanges de Tempé (The Harvest in the Vale of Tempé)', first produced in 1745, where the amorous Little Shepherd feeds grapes to the heroine, Lisette. The watching shepherd to the right is taken from a Rembrandt etching.
Boucher also provided a drawing of the main group to the Sèvres manufacture as a model for a porcelain group.