The Young Lancret and Watteau

© Martin Eidelberg

Created February 2015; modified March 2015

 


 

 

One of the most significant artists in Watteau’s circle was Nicolas Lancret (1690-1743), a talented painter of fêtes galantes and fascinating genre scenes. Although he was an innovative artist, he is often unjustly remembered only as one of Watteau’s followers. Yet, and this is an intriguing conundrum, the exact nature of the two men’s relationship remains to be charted.

Watteau’s eighteenth-century biographers offer little insight into this issue.1 The first several of these authors—Père Orlandi in 1719, Antoine de Sovot in 1721, the abbé Leclerc in 1725, Jean de Jullienne in 1726—did not discuss whether Watteau had any assistants or pupils. Not until Dezallier d’Argenville’s account of 1745 is there any mention of Lancret and Pater who, deceased by then, were described as Watteau’s “disciples.” Of Lancret, Dezallier d’Argenville wrote that he “was in part Gillot’s student and then Watteau’s . . . he endeavored to follow in Watteau’s manner, whose finesse of brush and delicacy of drawing he never acquired.”2 That Dezallier d’Argenville actually wrote that Lancret was Watteau’s pupil is significant, all the more so because none of the other biographers in Watteau’s circle were so direct. For example, the comte de Caylus, Watteau’s close friend and most thorough biographer, wrote nothing about any pupils. However, by the second half of the eighteenth century it became customary to end narratives of Watteau’s life with a declaration similar to the one that Papillon de la Ferté used in 1776: “He [Watteau] had as students Jean-Baptiste Pater and Nicolas Lancret.”3

If Watteau’s biographers were essentially silent about any relationship between him and Lancret, this should not be taken amiss since, after all, these authors generally were not concerned with such matters. They made no mention whatsoever of Pierre Antoine Quillard, they did not discuss Watteau’s collaboration with Philippe Meusnier, or Watteau’s relationship to secondary artists such as Francisque Millet fils and Henry Fergusson. Rather, the concerns of Watteau’s biographers extended in other directions.

One might have expected Lancret’s biographer, Ballot de Sovot, to have been more explicit. This author, a lawyer by profession, alluded to Lancret’s training with Watteau but only in a roundabout way. After mentioning the young artist’s apprenticeship to the academician Pierre Dulin, he wrote that Lancret, having learnt the basic principles of art, decided that he would specialize in Watteau’s type of painting, which then was very much favored by the public.4 Thus the young Lancret chose to study with Watteau’s master, Claude Gillot, as though this draftsman and printmaker could teach him the secrets of Watteau’s art! Lancret stayed with Gillot for several years, and during that period he evidently met Watteau. In fact, Watteau advised Lancret not to stay any longer with Gillot but to push his career forward. Ballot de Sovot wrote that Watteau, who was fond of Lancret at the beginning of his career, advised the young artist to study from nature (both landscapes and from live models) as opposed to Gillot’s practice of working from his imagination.5 Lancret followed this advice and made two paintings based on such studies. Watteau was so pleased by them that he embraced the young man tenderly. Lancret then submitted these two paintings to the Académie royale and was récu on their basis on February 26, 1718. Unfortunately, we have no description of these works, much less the actual paintings.

Ballot de Sovot’s narrative suggests that Lancret and Watteau were already on a close footing by 1717, if not earlier. Their respective ages and positions are significant. The thirty-three-year-old Watteau was received as a full member of the Académie royale in August 1717, and his career was relatively established by then. Lancret, already twenty-seven years old, was still just beginning and, as Watteau’s junior by five years, was clearly at an inferior rang. The two men soon parted ways. At the annual Exposition de la jeunesse at the place Dauphine, Lancret showed two paintings in Watteau’s manner that were believed to be by Watteau himself and several of his friends complimented him about them. This was what Lancret learnt later and to which he attributed the cold reception that Watteau gave him shortly thereafter. All relations between them were broken off and remained that way until Watteau’s death.”6

As vague as it actually is, Ballot de Sovot’s text is remarkably informative in suggesting the close bond that existed between the two men, howsoever briefly. On the other hand, his text is frustrating because it does not suggest when and under what circumstances the two men first met. More explicit is a reference in a June 1723 issue of the Mercure, apropos of the paintings Lancret showed at the Exposition de la jeunesse; the newspaper described the artist as “élève de feu M. Gillot et émule de feu M. Watteau.”7 In choosing these two different terms, “élève” and “émule,” the journalist made important distinctions. He implied that Lancret had not been Watteau’s student but an emulator or rival; both meanings are attached to “émule” and both describe Lancret’s relationship.

As will be seen, evidence suggests that Lancret actually worked in Watteau’s studio, and that explains the origins of the mentoring role that Watteau assumed. For the last century, art historians have glossed over this tricky question. Wildenstein and Adhémar essentially restricted themselves to Ballot de Sovot’s text, Wildenstein following it more specifically and Adhémar in more general terms. 8 In her recent studies, Mary Tavener Holmes skillfully sidestepped the issue, although she did declare that “There never was a formal teacher-pupil relationship as Watteau had shared with Pater.”9 This is an opinion with which most scholars would agree, yet there is increasing evidence that Lancret worked, howsoever briefly, in Watteau’s shop and that his earliest independent paintings show a greater bond with Watteau than had been supposed.

fig 1
1. Watteau and Nicolas Lancret, Portrait of Antoine de La Roque, oil on canvas, 46 x 54.5 cm. Tokyo, Fuji Art Museum.


Proof of a working relationship between Lancret and Watteau is found in Watteau’s portrait of Antoine de La Roque (fig. 1). Although the major portion of this painting was executed by Watteau, and the composition was engraved under Watteau’s name for the Jullienne Oeuvre gravé, nonetheless, there is evidence of a second hand in the painting.

Fig 2 Fig 3
2. Watteau and Lancret, Portrait of Antoine de La Roque (detail).   3. Nicolas Lancret, Evening (detail), oil on copper. London, National Gallery.


The faces of some of the river nymphs and satyrs at the right side of the portrait (fig. 2) bear distinctive traits of Lancret’s style.10 They can be favorably compared to his later works such as his Evening from a series of four paintings now in the National Gallery (fig. 3). Both examples reveal the artist’s distinctive traits. Especially notable is his tendency to show the face in profile, with a large angular nose. The eyes are often large and some of the men have small, pursed mouths. Since Lancret was working under Watteau, he naturally had to match his employer’s style as much as possible. To a large degree he succeeded but, as much as he tried to mimic Watteau’s manner, there are subtle but telltale differences.

 

Fig 4
4. Nicolas Lancret, Studies of a Seated Man, red, black, and white chalk, 20.2 x 17 cm. Private collection.


A Lancret study of a man posed like Antoine de La Roque offers key evidence (fig. 4).11 Some have tried to interpret this drawing as a copy that Lancret executed from the finished portrait, but that cannot be the case. Whereas the sitter’s head is upright in this study, in the painting it tilts more to the left in accord with the general incline of the body. This inclined position is already intimated in the secondary sketch at the left of the page. Similarly, the carefully articulated studies of hands at the right side of the sheet suggest the artist was working from a model, clarifying the pose as he worked. Not least of all, the sitter in the drawing is rendered fully whereas in the painting portions on his costume and his left wrist are obscured by his dog and cane. These elements were evidently added during the execution of the painting, and emphasize the anteriority of the drawing.12

Lancret’s drawing reinforces the idea that he was not only present when Watteau was working on this commission but that he took an active part in its planning and execution. Scholars believe that the portrait of La Roque was probably painted about 1718 or early 1719, before Watteau left for England. This would coincide with the time when Watteau and Lancret were on good terms and Watteau played a mentoring role.  Lancret was twenty-eight or twenty-nine years old by then, an age appropriate for a paid assistant who was starting out as an independent artist but still needed to supplement his income. What could be better than to find employment with a master whom he so greatly admired?

Fig 5
5. Nicolas Lancret, Conversation galante, oil on canvas, 68.3 x 53.5 cm. London, The Wallace Collection.


The next important marker in Lancret’s career occurred on March 24, 1719, when he was received into the Académie royale with paintings required of him, showing fête galantes.13 They are not identified in Ballot de Sovoy’s text nor in the Académie’s records. However, it has become conventional to identify one of the painting as the composition that Jacques Philippe Le Bas was obliged to engrave in 1742 for his own morceau de réception and, on the basis of that surmise, it has been assumed that a painting in the Walllace Collection reproduces Lancret’s morceau de réception (fig. 5).14 The composition of the Wallace Collection picture is identical to the one engraved by Le Bas, but its dimensions are slightly larger than those stipulated for the painting that Le Bas engraved.15 The links between the Wallace Collection painting and Lancret’s morceau de réception are not as exact as one might have hoped.

Fig 6 Fig 7
6. Nicolas Lancret, Conversation galante (detail). London, Wallace Collection. 7. Watteau, Voulez-vous triompher des belles? (detail), oil on panel. London, Wallace Collection.

 

The overall composition, narrative, and figural style of the Wallace Collection’s painting echo Watteau’s manner in a generic way. As has been previously noted by scholars, the amorous couple at the center of the picture is especially pertinent because they recall the principal characters in Watteau’s Voulez-vous triompher des belles? (figs. 6, 7).But they are only reminiscences of his master’s inventions, not copies. The other figures and the setting in Lancret’s painting also suggest analogies with Watteau’s art but there are no direct borrowings. Nonetheless, one can understand how people at the time mistook Lancret‘s paintings to be by Watteau.

At this point, Watteau’s and Lancret’s careers took very different directions. Watteau left for London in the latter part of 1719 and stayed abroad for a year, not returning until mid-1720. Thereupon he called back Pater, who has worked under him as an apprentice around 1711. However, due to the increased toll taken by his illness, Watteau was not able to paint full time and eventually withdrew to Nogent-sur-Marne, where he died in June 1721.

Meanwhile, Lancret’s career was on the ascendancy. He showed at the Exposition de la jeunesse in 1722, 1723, and 1724, and at the Académie’s Salon of 1725, where he showed a portrait, a scene of bathing women, a hunt scene, and several fêtes galantes. A commission from the Bâtiments du Roi that same year was yet another confirmation of his stature as a mature, prominent artist.

Fig 8
8. Nicolas Lancret, Concert dans un parc, oil on canvas, 47.5 x 55.5 cm. Whereabouts unknown.

 

Our particular interest here lies with the years just before 1720 and the paintings Lancret executed while still close to Watteau’s manner. One such work is the picture known under the title Concert dans un parc (fig. 8). It was already given to Lancret in the nineteenth century (perhaps even earlier). Its attribution to Lancret was affirmed a century ago by Georges Wildenstein and more recently by Mary Tavener Holmes.16

 

Fig 9 Fig 10
9. Nicolas Lancret, Concert dans un parc (detail). Whereabouts unknown. 10. Nicolas Lancret, Conversation galante (detail). London, Wallace Collection.


Most importantly, as has been noted, the serenading guitarist near the center of the composition is identical in pose to the one at the right side of Lancret’s Conversation galante in the Wallace Collection (figs. 9, 10). This correspondence is an important validation of Lancret’s authorship of both pictures.

The facial features of the characters in Concert dans un parc reveal the unmistakable hallmarks of Lancret’s style. For example, the woman in the foreground, seated left of center, has the type of angular nose and large eyes seen in his mature works. Overall, though, these characters are more robust than those in the Wallace Collection picture, and the foliage is denser and less airy. Ultimately, this painting is closer to Watteau—which is just what one would expect at the opening stage of his career.

Fig 11 Fig 12
11. Lancret, Fête champêtre, oil on canvas, 73 x 58.5 cm. Toulouse, Fondation Bemberg. 12. Watteau, Le Bal champêtre, oil on canvas, 96 x 128 cm. Paris, private collection.


Another such early fête by Lancret is one that can be traced to the collection of the Earl of Listowel in the early twentieth century, and known under the generic title, Fête champêtre (fig. 11). Its attribution to Lancret was accepted by Wildenstein almost century ago, and was recently reaffirmed when it recently appeared at auction.17 Here too, we see the young Lancret emerging from Watteau’s formulas. Its overall composition is highly indebted to the master. The two principal dancers at the center and the triad of musicians at the side recall such Watteau pictures as Le Bal champêtre (fig. 12). Likewise, the seated couple at the left recall similar groups in Watteau’s paintings, but the animated expressions and the active posturing of their hands is quite unlike Watteau’s evasive gestures. So too, Lancret’s manner is readily recognizable in the large, tilted heads, parted lips, and expressive eyes. In every way, this picture represents Lancret’s early style.

 

Fig 13
13. Nicolas Lancret, L’Entretien dans le parc, oil on panel, 54 x 40 cm. Whereabouts unknown.

 

 

The painting known as L’Entretien dans le parc has only recently come to be associated with Lancret’s name (fig. 13). It depicts two commedia dell’arte characters in a pastoral setting. Although it has a slightly fragmentary quality as though it were, say, the central section of a larger wall decoration, it may well be complete. In this modest composition, a man dressed in a commedia dell’arte costume bends down to speak to a seated shepherdess in a straw hat. Despite her downcast eyes, she listens attentively. In the late nineteenth century when this picture was sold from the de Bryas collection, it was, as might be expected, given to Watteau.18 That attribution remained in place in 1911 and 1926 when it came up at public auctions in Paris. However, the painting went undiscussed in the subsequent Watteau literature, presumably because scholars did not accept the attribution. After World War II, Adhémar demoted the painting to the “école de Watteau” and inexplicably suggested that it was “dans le genre de Boucher.” That was an unfortunate direction in which to turn since there is nothing of Boucher’s manner here. Rather, the painting should be given to the young Lancret, which is what was proposed when it sold at a London auction in 1995, where it was seconded by Mary Tavener Holmes.

 

Fig 14 Fig 15
14. Nicolas Lancret, L’Entretien dans le parc (detail). Whereabouts unknown. 15. Nicolas Lancret, Concert dans un parc (detail). Whereabouts unknown.


L’Entretien dans le parc has much in common with Concert dans un parc. The women’s heads in these paintings are essentially identical, overscale in size, slightly tilted, and dominated by large eyes.

fig 16 Fig 16 Fig 18
16. Watteau, Voulez-vous triompher des belles? (detail). London, Wallace Collection. 17. Nicolas Lancret, L’Entretien dans le parc (detail). Whereabouts unknown. 18. Nicolas Lancret, Concert dans un parc (detail). Toulouse, Fondation Bemberg.


In terms of both costume and position, the man in Lancret’s L’Entretien dans un parc recalls a similar figure in the background of Watteau’s Voulez-vous triompher des belles?, but only in a general way (fig. 16). Much more significant, and it has not been noticed until now, Lancret’s actor very closely resembles a figure at the left side of his Fete champêtre, the picture now in the Fondation Bemberg (fig. 18). The actors’ heads are titled at different angles, but their costumes and the arrangement of their fingers are identical. Lancret (like Watteau) repeated figures from one composition to another—something we have already seen in the double appearance of the standing guitarist in the Wallace Collection painting and the Concert dans un parc. His reemployment of this actor in the two paintings considerably strengthens the attribution of L’Entretien dans le parc to Lancret.

 

 

Fig 19 Fig 20
19. Nicolas Lancret, L’Escarpolette, oil on paper mounted on panel, 57 x 42 cm. Whereabouts unknown. 20. Watteau, L’Escarpolette, oil on canvas, 90 x 70 cm. Helsinki, Sinebrychoff Art Museum.

 

Other paintings help enlarge our sense of Lancret’s early manner. One of them is L’Escarpolette, a pleasant scene of a man pushing a woman on a swing (fig. 19). In the nineteenth century and still in 1950 it was attributed to Watteau.19 Finally, in 1961, it was demoted to the so-called “school of Watteau.” Admittedly, the painting has evident ties to Watteau’s oeuvre. Above all, the composition is heavily dependent on the central section of Watteau’s arabesque, L’Escarpolette, which, coincidentally, is all that survives of a larger composition by Watteau (fig. 20). The full composition was recorded in an engraving by Louis Crépy fils for the Jullienne Oeuvre gravé.

 

Fig 21 Fig 22
21. Nicolas Lancret, L’Escarpolette (detail). Whereabouts unknown. 22. Nicolas Lancret, Concert dans un parc (detail). Whereabouts unknown.


Lancret took over the essential elements of the two figures’ poses in a relatively straightforward manner. Where he introduced changes, as in the upturning of the woman’s head, he revealed his own artistic character. Her features—the large scale of the head, the pug nose, the flared nostrils—very much resemble those of her sisters in the foreground of Concert dans un parc.

 

Fig 23
23. Nicolas Lancret, Berger noir, oil on panel, 12 x 23 cm. Whereabouts unknown.


Fig 24
24. Nicolas Lancret, Berger rose, oil on panel, 12 x 23 cm. Whereabouts unknown.


Finally, I would like to close this short excursus by considering a pair of small paintings that have often been associated with Watteau’s name but which should instead be linked to the oeuvre of the young Lancret (figs. 23, 24).20 Often referred to as the Berger noir and the Berger rose, or Berger Scapin and Berger Mezzetin, they portray commedia dell’arte actors in pastoral roles, guarding cows and sheep respectively.21 In the mid-nineteenth century, the pendants were exhibited and sold under the name of Watteau, yet they were not mentioned by de Goncourt, Dacier, Vuaflart, and Hérold, or Réau. Finally Adhémar acknowledged them, but she rightly rejected them from Watteau’s oeuvre. On the other hand, Mathey, ever the inclusionist, pointlessly sought to reestablish their attribution to the master. However, neither the overall subject nor the faces of these men could justify an attribution to Watteau. In recent decades the Berger noir, separated from its pendant, has come up at auction with a more sensible attribution to the “entourage de Watteau.”

There is good reason to believe that the young Lancret was the artist responsible for these paintings. The men’s facial features—the expressively large eyes, small noses with flared nostrils, and slightly parted lips—are closely bound to the figures in the other paintings that have been assigned to the young Lancret.22 The depiction of these animals and trees recall Watteau’s sage advice to the young artist that he should study nature. 

 

Several benefits arise from this enquiry. First, it has thinned the ranks of the far too many paintings that have been misattributed to Watteau and his school, and that is of great importance since they have clouded our sense of what his true contribution was. Equally important, the proposed addition of these several paintings to Lancret’s oeuvre enlarges our sense of this artist’s early work and helps reveal his close ties to Watteau. One can also understand why Watteau may have been resentful or apprehensive of his former assistant’s encroachment on a genre he had created. The potential for rivalry certainly existed.

 

 

NOTES 

* I am indebted to my friends and colleagues Dr. Eliot Rowlands and Dr. Mary Tavener Holmes for their useful comments and help in tracing the provenances and the present whereabouts of various paintings.

1 For a handy compilation of these writings, see Pierre Rosenberg, ed., Vies anciennes d’ Antoine Watteau (Paris: 1984).

2 Antoine Joseph Dezallier d’Argenville, Abrégé de la vie d’Antoine Watteau,1745,in Rosenberg, Vies anciennes, 50-51: “Nicolas Lancret . . . fut élève en partie de Gillot et ensuite de Watteau: il . . .  tâché de suivre le goût de Watteau, dont il n’a jamais pu acquérir la finesse du pinceau et la délicatesse de dessin . . .” 

3 Papillon de la Ferté, Différents ouvrages publiés sur la vie des peintres, 1776, in Rosenberg, Vies anciennes, 105: “Il eut pour élèves Jean-Baptiste Pater et Nicolas Lancret.” 

4 Ballot de Sovot, Éloge de M. Lancret, in Jean Guiffrey, ed., Éloge de Lancret: peintre du roi, par Ballot de Sovot (Paris, 1874), 17-18: “Suffisament instruit des principles généraux de l’Art, et en état de se décider pour un genre, celui de Watteau, que le public goûtoit fort, lui plut davantage . . . il crut s’assurer davantage de réussir dans ce genre, en puissant dans les mêmes sources où Watteau avoit puisé lui-même. Il se mit chez Gillot, maître de Watteau, où il travailla plusieurs années."

5  Ibid, 18: “Watteau, qui affectionnoit M. Lancret dans ses commencemens, lui dit un jour qu’il ne pouvoit que perdre son tems à rester davantage chez un maître; qu’il falloit porter ces essays plus loin, d’après le maîtres des maîtres, la nature . . . Il lui conseilla d’aller dessiner aux environs de Paris quelques vûës de paysages; de dessiner ensuite quelques figures, et d’en former un tableau de son imagination et de son choix. M. Lancret suivit ce conseil, et fit deux tableaux dont Watteau fut si content, lorsqu’il les lui porta, qu’il l’embrassa tendrement. Et ces productions d’un génie naissant furent si fort approuvées, que M. Lancret fut agréé sur ces deux morceaux à l’Académie Royale de Peinture et Sculpture.”

6 Ballot de Sovot, Éloge de M. Lancret, 19: “M. Lancret exposa à la place Dauphine . . . deux tableaux dans la manière de Watteau, qu’on crut de Watteau même et dont plusieurs de ses amis lui firent compliment. Ce fut ce que M. Lancret apprit ensuite, et à quoi il ne put qu’attribuer la réception froide que Watteau lui fit peu après. Toute liaison fut rompüe dès ce moment entr’eux; et les choses ont subsisté sur ce pied jusqu’à la mort de Watteau.”

7 Mercure, June 1723, 1175

8 Georges Wildenstein, Lancret (Paris: 1924), 10-12, Hélène Adhémar and René Huyghe, Antoine Watteau, sa vie—son oeuvre (Paris: 1950), 128-29.

9 Mary Tavener Holmes, Nicolas Lancret 1690-1743 (New York: 1991), 25-27; idem, Nicolas Lancret, Dance before a Fountain (Los Angeles: 2006), 30-34.

10 For example, Margaret Morgan Grasselli’s position has vacillated; early on she saw Lancret’s hand in this section of the portrait but inexplicably denied “evidence of any collaboration between them”; see Watteau 1684-1721, exh. cat. (Washington, National Gallery of Art, and Paris, Musée du Louvre: 1984), cat. D113. Subsequently she posited that the Sovot portrait had been left unfinished at Watteau’s death and Pater completed it or (even less plausible to me) that the whole of the portrait was by Lancret. Holmes, Nicolas Lancret 1690-1743, proposed that Lancret  “may even have painted its background.” Alan Wintermute wrote that the nymphs and satyrs were painted by Lancret, and questioned whether he might not have been responsible for painting the figure of La Roque; see Watteau and His World, exh. cat. (London and New York: 1999), cat. 59. 

11 For this drawing, see Watteau and His World, cat. 59. See also my comments in a review of this exhibition: Burlington Magazine, 142 (January 2000), 62-63. See also Jean Cailleux, “Invalides, Huntsmen, and Squires,” Burlington Magazine, 106 (February 1964), adv. suppl.; Pierre Rosenberg and Louis-Antoine Prat, Antoine Watteau 1684-1721: Catalogue raisonné des dessins, 3 vols. (Milan: 1996), 3: cat. R69; Holmes, Nicolas Lancret 1690-1743, 88.

12 Two studies of nude women could be considered in relation to the nymphs in the Portrait of La Roque. One is in the Musée des Beaux-Arts et d’Archéologie of Besançon and the other appeared in the Rodrigues sale of 1928; see Rosenberg and Prat, Watteau, catalogue raisonné des dessins, 3: cat. R78 and R647, and Watteau and His World, cat. 59. However, their attribution to Lancret is less than certain and the resemblance of these figures to the painted nymphs is not exact.

13 “Le sieur Nicolas Lancret, qui s’étoit présenté le vingt-six Février 1718, a fait apporter les tableaux qui luy avoient été ordonnez, représentant une Feste galante.” See Anatole de Montaiglon, ed., Procès-verbaux de l’Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture, 1648-1793, 10 vols. (Paris: 1875-92), 4: 280.

14 For the two paintings, see Wildenstein, Lancret, cat. 284-85.

15 When the Le Bas engraving was announced in the March 1743 issue of the Mercure de France, the painting’s measurements were given as 2 pieds, 3 lignes x 1 pied, 2 lignes, approximately the equivalent of 61.6 x 30.5 cm. Yet the Wallace Collection painting measures 68.3 x 53.5 cm. Modern critics are divided as to whether the Wallace Collection picture is Lancret’s actual morceau de réception or a slightly later repetition. See Wildenstein, Lancret, cat. 284-85; Holmes, Nicolas Lancret, 25.

16 Wildenstein, Lancret, cat. 109; New York, Newhouse Gallery, and London, Vernel Amell Gallery, Old Master Paintings, An Exhibition of European Paintings from the 16th to the 19th Century (April-May and June-July, 1991), cat. 20.

17 Wildenstein, Lancret, cat. 340. The painting sold in London, Christie’s, July 8, 1983, lot 8; it was bought by the Stair Sainty Gallery of London.

18 The painting has passed as a work by Watteau for at least a century: Sale, Paris, Hôtel Drouot, April 4-6 1898, Jacques de Bryas collection, lot 174; Hôtel Drouot, April 3, 1911, lot 46; Hôtel Drouot, June 23, 1926, Claudon collection, lot 51. Only recently was Lancret’s authorship recognized: London, Sotheby’s, July 5, 1995, lot 95. For a more detailed history of this painting, see the Watteau Abecedario, Entretien dans le parc.

19 It was attributed to Watteau himself in the mid-nineteenth century when it was in the Evans-Lambe and Demidov collections, and still in the early twentieth century when it was in the Porgès collection. After World War II, Adhémar still accepted the attribution to Watteau; see Adhémar, Watteau, cat. 60. The painting was subsequently sold from the Jules Strauss collection (Paris, Palais Galliera, March 7, 1961, lot 29) with a more cautious attribution to the “École de Watteau.” For a more detailed study of this painting’s provenance and critical history, see the Watteau Abecedario, Escarpolette.

20 Paris, Hôtel Drouot, April 28, 1885, Jules Burat collection, lots 206-07, as by Watteau; Adhémar, Watteau, cat. 309, as by the School of Watteau; Jacques Mathey, Antoine Watteau, peintures réapparues (Paris: 1959), nos. 8-9, as by Watteau; Macchia and Montagni, L’opera completa di Watteau, cat. nos.  2o-S and Y, as by the School of Watteau; Paris, Hôtel Drouot, May 31, 1988, Georges Renand collection, cat. 18 (the Berger noir without its pendant), as by the “Entourage de Antoine Watteau.”

21 There has been considerable confusion about the nomenclature of these two paintings. The painting originally known as Scapin berger probably does not represent Scapin, a commedia dell’arte actor who properly should wear a green- or blue-striped costume. Rather, he is Scaramouche or a related character who traditionally wears a black costume. Confusing the issue even further, in recent years this painting has been misidentified as Mezzetin berger. For more on the nomenclature of these paintings, see the Watteau Abecedario, Berger noir and Berger rose.

22 Copies of the Berger noir and Berger rose are in the Museum Langmatt, Baden, Switzerland. The figures of the two men are repeated without change, but there are differences in the accessory elements. There are fewer animals and the bushes and tree trunks have been greatly simplified. Also, the height of the paintings has been increased, allowing for more sky. Also, there are slight differences in the quality of the figures. All this suggests that they were not executed by Lancret himself. For more on these paintings’ histories, see Berger noir (copy 1) and Berger rose (copy 1) in the Watteau Abecedario.