The present painting, whose whereabouts has been unknown since 1954, is one of a handful of key early works by François Boucher in which he redefines the pastoral, shortly after his return from Rome. A terminus ante quem is provided by Huquier's two advertisements of his engraving based on the present painting, in the Mercure de France, in 1736: the first in January, with no title mentioned; and the second in April, as Pastorale. Alastair Laing has suggested an even earlier dating in the first part of the 1730s, noting the tautness of the drapery and the foliage. The present painting heralds the four great Pastorals, on a much vaster scale, formerly in the Rothschild collection (see the catalogue for the exhibition, François Boucher, New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Detroit, the Detroit Institute of Arts; and Paris, Grand Palais; Feb. 1986 - Jan. 1987, pp. 163-8, no. 27, figs. 118-20).
Mr. Laing notes that the provenance for the present painting cited in Ananoff and Wildenstein (op. cit.) is incorrect prior to the reappearance of the picture at the exhibition of French and English Art at the Guildhall in 1902, when it was loaned by Charles Crews. It is, however, possible that the present picture is the one listed in the posthumous sale of Boucher's son-in-law, Jean-Baptiste Deshays (see under Provenance above), although Mr. Laing comments that it seems unlikely that a painting of this date would have remained in Boucher's hands and so have passed down in the family.
A drawing for the young man (A. Ananoff, L'oeuvre dessiné de François Boucher, 1966, I, p. 91, no. 274, fig. 51) was first in the collection of Sir Joshua Reynolds (Fig. 1). The foremost cow closely resembles that in a sheet in Stockholm, although the latter was made from another painting, not from life (Ananoff and Wildenstein, op. cit., figs. 243 and 401) and was also used in full in the painting Capriccio of the Farnese Gardens, dated 1734, in the Jack and Belle Linsky Collection, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (see the 1985 exhibition catalogue, op. cit., p. 153, pl. 23). The drawing of the whole composition (Fig. 2; Ananoff and Wildenstein op. cit., fig. 276) is possibly not by Boucher, rather Huquier's preparatory drawing for the engraving. Finally and most interesting in terms of dating, is a drawing in the Louvre of a boy standing behind a mule (Fig. 3). This sheet appears to be a reworking of an idea found in La Vie Champêtre, (Belton House, Lincs., England; see the 1985 exhibition catalogue, pp. 110-14, pl. 9, fig. 87). That painting was possibly executed before Boucher's return from Rome. The drawing shows a basket substituted for the baby in the London painting, and if the boy is removed from the Louvre drawing it corresponds very closely to the mule on the right of the present picture.
An adaptation of Huquier's engraving for the present painting can be seen in a reserve on the vase hollandois from a Sèvres garniture of three flower-pots in the Wallace collection, Inv. no. C220-2 (see R. Savill, The Wallace Collection: Catalogue of Sèvres Porcelain, 1988, I, pp. 78-83, color plate on p. 79).
We are extremely grateful to Mr. Alastair Laing for providing the basis of the above entry.
A Pastoral Landscape with a Shepherd and Shepherdess seated by Ruins
Oil on canvas
THE PROPERTY OF A TEXAS ESTATE
Signed 'f. Boucher'
Gabriel Huquier, before 1736.
London, Guildhall, 1902, no. 4.
Glasgow, Art Gallery, 1902, no. 9.
London, Whitechapel Art Gallery, 1907, no. 126.
32 5/8 x 26in. (82.8 x 66cm.)
J.J. Foster, French Art from Watteau to Prud'hon, 1906, pl. XI.
A. Graves, A Century of Loan Exhibitions, 1813-1912, I, 1913, p. 90.
H. Voss, Boucher's Early Development, The Burlington Magazine, Addenda, July 1954, p. 209, fig. 22.
A. Ananoff and D. Wildenstein, François Boucher, 1976, I, pp. 190-1 no. 54, fig. 274 and detail, p. 230, fig. 405.
Possibly Jean-Baptiste Deshays; (+) sale, Paris, March 23, 1765, lot 128 'Berger avec sa Bergere, de 2 pieds et demi de haut, sur 2 pieds de long' (=32 x 25 1/2 in.).
Charles T.D. Crews, 41 Portman Square, London; (+) Christie's, London, July 1, 1915, lot 122 (240gns. to Woodhouse).
with Leonard Koetser, London, 1954 (his advertisement in The Connoisseur, CXXXIII, no. 537, May 1954, p. 192, a detail of the shepherdess on the cover).
with David B. Findlay Galleries, New York, 1954, from whom purchased by the family of the present owners and by descent.