Art/ Collection/ Art Object

The Country Dance

Copy after Antoine Watteau (French, late 18th century)
Oil on wood
Diameter 8 1/2 in. (21.6 cm)
Credit Line:
Bequest of Lillian S. Timken, 1959
Accession Number:
Not on view
The compositions are recorded among paintings by Watteau of which there are prints: La Danse paysanne, or the Country Dance, by Benoît II Audran (1698–1772) and La Cascade by Gérard Jean-Baptiste Scotin (1698–1733), both coming from the collection of "Mr. de Monmerqué." Originally they were rectangular. The engravings show them reversed. Each is described as "Gravé d’Apres le Tableau original peint par Watteau, de mesme grandeur." La Danse paysanne is presumably a painting on panel (43.2 x 32.4 cm) belonging to the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California. The Cascade, also on panel, was last seen at public auction in Zurich more than thirty years ago (Galerie Koller, May 16–17, 1980, no. 5182, 43 x 32.5 cm, colorpl. 14). In each case, by about 1785 a roundel of approximately the same size as the Museum’s paintings had been cut from the larger surface and then later provided with a replacement surround, presumably based on the relevant print. This would suggest that the Museum’s copies, for this is what we believe them to be, must date no earlier than the end of the eighteenth century.

[Katharine Baetjer 2016]
John Joshua Proby, 1st Earl of Carysfort, Elton Hall, Peterborough, and London (until d. 1828; posthumous sale, Christie's, London, June 14, 1828, no. 29, as "A pair, small, a Masquerade and Musical conversation," for £63); Reverend John Lucy, Hampton Lucy, Warwick (until d. 1874; posthumous sale, Christie's, London, May 1, 1875, no. 89, "Musical Conversation," 8 in. circle, with no. 88, "Dance Champêtre," for £535.10 to Wertheimer); [Wertheimer, London, from 1875]; Sir Edward Henry Scott, 5th Baronet, Westbury Manor, Brackley, and London (until d. 1883); Sir Samuel Edward Scott, 6th Baronet (1883–1924; his sale, Christie's, London, July 4, 1924, no. 150, to Colnaghi); [Colnaghi, London, 1924–26]; William R. Timken, New York (1926–49); Lillian S. Timken, New York (1949–59)
"Ninetieth Annual Report of the Trustees for the Fiscal Year 1959–1960." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 19 (October 1960), p. 36, ill., as by Watteau.

Jean Ferré. Watteau. Madrid, [1972], vol. 1 [1875] vol. 2, p. 760, fig. 508, no. P58; vol. 3, p. 1072, no. P 58; vol. 4, pp. 1106, 1201, as a pastiche, possibly the picture of this title in the Lucy sale, London, 1875.

Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell in French Art of the Eighteenth Century at The Huntington. Ed. Shelley M. Bennett and Carolyn Sargentson. [San Marino, Calif.], 2008, pp. 388–89 n. 23, dates the Huntington panel about 1711; refers to ours as copies or variants of the Huntington picture and "The Fountain," sold in 1980.

Conservator George Bisacca points out several physical differences: "The Cascade" is on a thinner piece of wood, its grain runs diagonally, not vertically, and a large head of a putto is visible in x-ray. The grain on "The Country Dance" runs horizontally and no underlying composition is visible in x-ray.
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