The imaginary setting comprises delicately painted trees, a ruined tower, and an encampment of several tents. The figures are arranged in a rough semi-circle against a bright but fog-shrouded middle distance. They dismount from their horses and mules, gather at trestle tables, and smoke and talk by the campfire. Among the soldiers, Pater depicts the women and children who followed them.
In 1709, the armies of Louis XIV suffered a bitter loss at Malplaquet, near Valenciennes. The young Pater certainly saw and may have suffered deprivation, in the wake of troop movements and other travails of war. This suggests why the figures are so closely observed. See also 56.55.1.
[Katharine Baetjer 2010]
Baron Adolphe de Rothschild, Paris (until d. 1900); Baron Maurice de Rothschild, Paris (1900–1924; sold to Wildenstein); [Wildenstein, New York, from 1924; sold to Macbride]; Mrs. Herbert Macbride, later Mrs. Julian Humphrys, New York (by 1928–d. 1956)
City Art Museum of St. Louis. "French Art of the XVIII Century," January 15–February 15, 1923, no. 20 (as "War Scene," lent by Baron M. de Rothschild).
Baltimore Museum of Art. "French Art of the XVIII Century," January 4–February 3, 1924, no. 15 or 16 (as "War Scene," lent by Baron M. de Rothschild).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "French Painting and Sculpture of the XVIII Century," November 6, 1935–January 5, 1936, no. 7 (as "Troops at Rest," lent by Mrs. Julian Humphrys).
Martigny. Fondation Pierre Gianadda. "The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: Chefs-d'œuvre de la peinture européenne," June 23–November 12, 2006, no. 35.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Watteau, Music, and Theater," September 22–November 29, 2009, no. 21.
Florence Ingersoll-Smouse. Pater. Paris, 1928, pp. 16, 70, no. 417, fig. 126, as owned by Mrs. Herbert MacBride, New York.
Katharine Baetjer inThe Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: Chefs-d'œuvre de la peinture européenne. Exh. cat., Fondation Pierre Gianadda. Martigny, 2006, pp. 191–94, no. 35, ill. (color, overall and detail).
Katharine Baetjer inWatteau, Music, and Theater. Ed. Katharine Baetjer. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2009, p. 63, no. 21, ill. p. 65 (color).