Jacques de La Joue the Younger (French, Paris 1686–1761 Paris)
Oil on canvas
Irregular, 39 1/4 x 41 5/8 in. (99.7 x 105.7 cm)
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1906
Not on view
La Joue was a painter of ornament and architectural subjects. This canvas was designed as an overdoor and may have been one of a series representing the Four Seasons. The arabesques at the base and the curving balustrade are characteristic of Rococo design.
La Joue was the son of a master mason, and it is perhaps unsurprising that his talents were as a designer and painter of ornament and architecture. He was received into the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture on presentation of two imaginary architectural views in 1721 and, with the reestablishment of the Paris Salon, regularly exhibited decorative paintings there between 1737 and 1753. He was influenced by both Antoine Watteau (1684–1721) and François Boucher (1703–1770), collaborating with the latter on a design for fireworks in 1729. La Joue's decorative style epitomized the rococo idiom in France. Although his popularity waned towards the end of his career, his work remained one of the most important sources of rococo imagery and was widely reproduced in engravings.
The scale and shaped bottom edge of this Allegory of Winter suggest it was originally an overdoor, perhaps one of a series representing the Four Seasons. At the center of the composition are statues of a woman and a putto, veiled to protect themselves from the cold. They are set atop a frozen fountain sculpted with typically rococo scrolls and curves; even the bare branches of the trees seem to conform to an arching arabesque design. La Joue's composition echoes that of another of his winter overdoors (private collection) which dates between 1735 and 1740 and shares the muted palette and pale red sun.
[Francesca Whitlum-Cooper 2010]
Inscription: Signed (bottom right): Lajoüe
Georges Hoentschel, Paris (until 1906; sold to Morgan); J. Pierpont Morgan, New York (1906)
Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. "Earth, Sea, and Sky: Nature in Western Art; Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," October 6, 2012–January 4, 2013, no. 10.
Beijing. National Museum of China. "Earth, Sea, and Sky: Nature in Western Art; Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," February 8–May 9, 2013, no. 10.
Charles Sterling. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of French Paintings. Vol. 1, XV–XVIII Centuries. Cambridge, Mass., 1955, p. 119, ill., notes that this overdoor by La Joue was probably part of a series of the four seasons.
J.-C. Lemagny inKindlers Malerei Lexikon. Ed. Kurt Fassmann. Vol. 4, Zürich, 1967, p. 23.
Marianne Roland Michel. Letter to Mary Ann Harris. December 10, 1975, finds the statue close to one in an overdoor in the "Botanique" made for the duc de Picquigny in about 1735.
Marianne Roland Michel. Lajoüe et l'art rocaille. Neuilly-sur-Seine, 1984, pp. 95, 192, 327, no. P. 30, fig. 71, as "Winter," from about 1740, probably from a series; points out that the group of the veiled nude and the putto, the latter influenced by Boucher, may be found in a painting of about 1738 belonging to the Fabius gallery, Paris, and that both are based on a print by Gillot called "Le Grand Hiver de l'année MDCCIX".
Nicole Hoentschel et al. Georges Hoentschel. Saint-Rémy-en-l'Eau, 1999, ill. pp. 169, 178 (gallery installations), reproduces photographs of it hanging in Hoentschel's gallery on Boulevard Flandrin.
Peter Barnet and Wendy A. Stein inEarth, Sea, and Sky: Nature in Western Art; Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. [Tokyo], 2012, p. 48, ill. pp. 36, 54 (color).
Katharine Baetjer inEarth, Sea, and Sky: Nature in Western Art; Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. [Tokyo], 2012, p. 210, no. 10, ill. [Chinese ed., Hefei Shi, 2013, pp. 24–25, no. 10, ill. (color)].