Charles Blanc. Le trésor de la curiosité. Vol. 2, Paris, 1858, pp. 212, 347, describes this picture, Mercury and Battus by Francisque Millet, as in the Laborde de Méréville sale of 1802 and in the Lafontaine sale of 1821 [see ex. coll.].
A. E. Harnisch. Letter to Mary Cassatt. January 30, 1907 [see Ref. Stein and Wold 1993, p. 358], believes this picture and MMA 29.100.20 [Style of Nicolas Poussin, Orpheus and Eurydice] came from the Talleyrand collection.
"French, English, and American Paintings." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 15 (September 1920), pp. 202–3, notes that it was lent to the Fiftieth Anniversary Exhibition with a companion piece, Orpheus and Eurydice [MMA 29.100.20, Style of Nicolas Poussin], and maintains that each shows an episode from the story of Orpheus and Eurydice.
Frank Jewett Mather Jr. "The Havemeyer Pictures." The Arts 16 (March 1930), pp. 464, 467, ill. p. 449, as by Poussin; sees this and MMA 29.100.20 as the greatest pictures in the Havemeyer collection.
H. O. Havemeyer Collection: Catalogue of Paintings, Prints, Sculpture and Objects of Art. n.p., 1931, pp. 164–65, ill., as "Orpheus Asking the Way to Hades," by Poussin.
Walter Friedlaender in Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler. Ed. Hans Vollmer. Vol. 27, Leipzig, 1933, p. 326, as Orpheus asking the way to Hades, attributed to Poussin but probably by an imitator.
Anthony Blunt. "The Heroic and the Ideal Landscape in the Work of Nicolas Poussin." Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 7 (July–December 1944), p. 165, refers to this picture as "Orpheus asking the way to Hades," traditionally attributed to Poussin and close to his manner, but engraved as a Francisque Millet.
Martin Davies. Bulletin de la Société Poussin 2 (1948), p. 26, publishes a print of this composition by Théodore, in which Millet is named as its author; observes that the print is entitled "Deux bergers" but more probably represents Mercury and Battus; provides some provenance for the picture.
Charles Sterling. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of French Paintings. Vol. 1, XV–XVIII Centuries. Cambridge, Mass., 1955, pp. 92–94, ill., notes that the little known engraver, Théodore, said to have been a pupil of Millet, reproduces this composition faithfully, naming Millet as the author (Robert-Dumesnil, Le peintre-graveur français, I, p. 263, no. 23, second state, under the title Deux Bergers); observes that Millet is known to have produced a series of twenty-six subjects from [Ovid's] Metamorphoses, and suggests that this picture belonged to the set; remarks that a much smaller version of the subject by Millet appeared in the Fabre sale in 1813, and in the sale of the Didot collection in 1814.
Calvin Tomkins. Merchants and Masterpieces: The Story of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1970, pp. 209–10 [rev., enl. ed., 1989].
Pierre Rosenberg. "France in the Golden Age: A Postscript." Metropolitan Museum Journal 17 (1982), pp. 25, 32, no. 72, notes that a small copy (38 x 67.5 cm) was sold at Finarte, Rome, March 30, 1982, no. 114 (ill.), with an attribution to the school of Jan Frans van Bloemen.
Pierre Rosenberg. France in the Golden Age: Seventeenth-century French Paintings in American Collections. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1982, pp. 162, 291–92, 365, no. 72, ill. pp. 183, 291 [French ed., La peinture française du XVIIe siècle dans les collection américaines, Paris, 1982], notes that it is not possible to date the painting, as nothing is known about Millet's stylistic development or chronology; observes, however, that his career spanned little more than fifteen years.
Frances Weitzenhoffer. The Havemeyers: Impressionism Comes to America. New York, 1986, pp. 178, 255.
Ann Sutherland Harris in Claude to Corot: The Development of Landscape Painting in France. Ed. Alan Wintermute. Exh. cat., Colnaghi, New York. 1990, p. 76, sees in Millet's unusual choice of theme a desire to find "new or rarely represented subjects around which to build his grandly conceived landscapes".
Susan Alyson Stein in Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, p. 244, pl. 242.
Gretchen Wold in Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, p. 358, no. A374, ill.
Bernard Biard. "Les paysages de Francisque Millet." L'estampille, L'objet d'art no. 307 (November 1996), pp. 74–75, ill. (color), suggests this composition was inspired by Poussin's "Hercules and Cacus" at the Pushkin Museum [Moscow] or by his "Blind Orion Searching for the Rising Sun" [MMA 24.45.1].