Watteau developed and made famous a type of painting of the elegant party, called the fête galante, in which ladies and gentlemen converse, flirt, and make music in idyllic outdoor settings. This is his only fête galante with an identifiable setting: in the distance, Watteau shows the...
Watteau developed and made famous a type of painting of the elegant party, called the fête galante, in which ladies and gentlemen converse, flirt, and make music in idyllic outdoor settings. This is his only fête galante with an identifiable setting: in the distance, Watteau shows the Château de Montmorency near Paris, home of his friend and patron, the art collector and financier Pierre Crozat. The artist freely transformed the site, creating a dreamlike fantasy world evocative of the theater with its backdrop of towering trees and graceful groupings of figures in old-fashioned dress.
By 1729, M. Guénon, Paris [see note 1]. 1845, Daniel Saint (b. 1778- d. 1847), Paris; May 4, 1846, Saint sale, Hôtel des Ventes, Paris, lot 56, sold for 3805 fr. to Richard Seymour-Conway (b. 1800 - d. 1870), Fourth Marquess of Hertford, Paris and London; by inheritance to his son, Richard Wallace (b. 1818 - d. 1890) and his wife, Julie-Amélie-Charlotte Castelnau Wallace (b. 1819 - d. 1897); bequeathed by Lady Wallace to Sir John Murray Scott (b. 1847 - d. 1912), London; June 27, 1913, Murray Scott estate sale, Christie's, London, lot 138, to Thomas Agnew and Sons, London (stock no. 4311); March 4, 1919, sold by Agnew to Walter Spencer Morgan Burns (b. 1872 - d. 1929), Mymms Park, Hatfield, England. 1923, Durlacher Brothers, New York and London; 1923, sold by Durlacher to the MFA for $32,000. (Accession Date: November 21, 1923) NOTES:  The composition was engraved by Louis Crépy and published in 1729 with an inscription stating that the painting was from the cabinet of M. Guénon (or Guésnon)--identified by Pierre-Jean Mariette as a carpenter to the king. However, the precise identity of this owner is unclear. Jean Guénon is recorded working at Orléans in 1705 and at Paris in 1706 and 1715; Jean-Antoine Guénon, attaché to the royal household between 1718 and 1779, worked at Chantilly, Versailles, and Fontainebleau; and Jean-Francois Guénon, cabinetmaker to the king, was employed at Madame Pompadour's château at Crécy in 1751. See Émile Dacier and Albert Vuaflart, Jean de Jullienne et les Graveurs de Watteau (Paris, 1922), vol. 3, pp. 83-84, cat. no. 172 and Margaret Morgan Grasselli and Pierre Rosenberg, Watteau 1684-1721 (exh. cat. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1984-1985), cat. no. 25, pp. 302-303.
Maria Antoinette Evans Fund