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The Artistic Heritage of Modena: Wounded Art


Shepherd's Idyll

François Boucher (French, Paris 1703–1770 Paris)

Oil on canvas
94 1/2 x 93 1/2 in. (240 x 237.5 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Julia A. Berwind, 1953
Accession Number:
  • Gallery Label

    Together with its pendant, Washerwomen, this late pastoral work was, in all likelihood, painted for the château d'Hénonville, the country estate of Roslin d'Ivry. It was probably these works that Sir Joshua Reynolds saw and remarked upon when he visited Boucher's studio that same year.

  • Catalogue Entry

    The Shepherd’s Idyll and The Washerwomen (53.225.2), Boucher’s largest late works, hark back to the pastoral style the artist had developed more than thirty years before, in the early 1730s, after his return from the traditional period of study in Italy. In the last full year of his life, 1769, demonstrating his continuing vitality in old age, he painted three decorative pictures in a similar style for the Paris hotel of the maréchal-duc de Richelieu (1696–1788) and six mythologies, probably commissioned by Jean François Bergeret de Frouville (1719–1783), all on a similarly grand scale. The pair of paintings catalogued here came to light at the estate auction of baron Léopold Roslin d’Ivry (died 1883), and Alastair Laing has suggested that they may have been commissioned by his grandfather, Jean Marie Roslin, seigneur d’Ivry, for the family château at Hénonville. The seigneur d’Ivry is known to have been a collector of Boucher’s work and through his wife was connected to Pierre Jacques Onésyme Bergeret de Grancourt (1715–1785), Jean-François’s older brother and one of Boucher’s most important patrons.

    All of the components of Boucher’s mature style in landscape are present here: deciduous trees that have the shape of Roman pines, pollarded willows, a bridge, a stream, a pool, a fountain, a thatched roof; cows, a donkey, sheep, dogs of indeterminate breed; and peasants whose stockings and colorful clothes are without tears or rents. Certainly the figures, especially the women, were not studied from life, for they had appeared with only slight variations in many other pictures over the years and Boucher would hardly have needed a model when painting them. His skill and technical facility are astonishing.


  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Signed and dated (lower right): fBoucher 1768

  • Provenance

    probably Jean Marie Roslin, Seigneur d'Ivry, château d'Hénonville, near Beauvais (until d. 1785; ?commissioned by him during the renovation of the château); probably his son, baron Jean Baptiste Marie Roslin d'Ivry, château d'Hénonville (1785–d. 1839); his son, baron L[éopold Roslin]. d'Ivry, Paris (1839–d. 1883; his estate sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, May 7–9, 1884, no. 3, with no. 4 (53.225.2) for Fr 40,000 each, to Fezensac); his son-in-law, Philippe de Montesquiou-Fezensac, duc de Fezensac, Paris (from 1884); [Gimpel & Wildenstein, Paris and New York, until 1907/8; sold (with 53.225.2) for $45,000 to Berwind]; Edward J. Berwind, New York (1907/8–d. 1936); his sister, Julia A. Berwind, New York (1936–53)

  • Exhibition History

    New York. Wildenstein & Co., Inc.. "François Boucher," November 12–December 19, 1980, no. 36.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "François Boucher, 1703–1770," February 17–May 4, 1986, no. 79.

    Detroit. Detroit Institute of Arts. "François Boucher, 1703–1770," May 27–August 17, 1986, no. 79.

    Paris. Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais. "François Boucher, 1703–1770," September 19, 1986–January 5, 1987, no. 79.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "AngloMania: Tradition and Transgression in British Fashion," May 3–September 4, 2006, unnumbered cat. (p. 148).

  • References

    Catalogue des objets d'art et d'ameublement et des tableaux anciens dépendant de la succession de M. le baron L. d'Ivry. Galerie Georges Petit, Paris. May 7–9, 1884, p. 4, no. 3, ill. (engraving by Eugène André Champollion).

    Paul Eudel. L'Hôtel Drouot et la curiosité en 1883–1884. Paris, 1885, pp. 332, 335, records that after baron d'Ivry's death the contents of his château at Hénonville were transferred by his son to his Paris hôtel, rue de la Baume, where the author "recently" saw the present picture and "Washerwomen" (53.225.2) in the anteroom; states that at the 1884 sale the two pictures were bought in by the family for Fr 80,000.

    H. Thirion. La vie privée des financiers au XVIIIe siècle. Paris, 1895, pp. 331–32.

    L. Soullié in collaboration with Charles Masson in André Michel. Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint et dessiné de François Boucher. Paris, [1906], p. 81, no. 1463.

    Georges Pannier in Pierre de Nolhac. François Boucher, premier peintre du roi, 1703–1770. Paris, 1907, pp. 140, 156.

    W. G. Menzies in Haldane Macfall. Boucher: The Man, His Times, His Art, and His Significance, 1703–1770. London, 1908, pp. 149, 153, as sold in 1844.

    "Ninety-first Annual Report of the Trustees for the Fiscal Year 1960–1961." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 20 (October 1961), pp. 35, 45, ill.

    "Nouvelles acquisitions dans les musées durant l'année 1961." Chronique des arts et de la curiosité, supplément à la Gazette des beaux-arts, 6th ser., no. 1117 (February 1962), p. 25, ill.

    Elizabeth E. Gardner. "Four French Paintings from the Berwind Collection." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 20 (May 1962), pp. 265–67, ill. (overall and detail), speculates that this painting and its pendant were commissioned by Jean Marie Roslin, seigneur d'Ivry and "maître des requêtes," for his Château de Bouglainval, near Maintenon.

    Alexandre Ananoff with the collaboration of Daniel Wildenstein. François Boucher. Lausanne, 1976, vol. 1, p. 214; vol. 2, pp. 279–80, no. 654, ill., state that the two pictures formed a group with nos. 682 and 683, both dated 1769 (collection Charles Alexander, New York); believe all four were made for the duc de Richelieu, sold with his estate in 1852, and purchased as a group by baron Rothschild [however, confuse the locations for nos. 682 and 683 with those for nos. 82 and 83 (Frick Art Museum, Pittsburgh, and Chrysler Collection, Norfolk)].

    Mario Amaya and Eric M. Zafran. Treasures from The Chrysler Museum at Norfolk and Walter P. Chrysler, Jr. Exh. cat., Tennessee Fine Arts Center at Cheekwood, Nashville. Norfolk, Va., 1977, unpaginated, under no. 22, follow Ananoff and connect our pendants with the Chrysler and Frick pictures.

    Donald Posner. "Book Reviews." Art Bulletin 60 (September 1978), p. 561, observes that Ananoff confused, as pendants to this picture, his cat. nos. 82 and 83 with nos. 682 and 683.

    Regina Shoolman Slatkin. "The New Boucher Catalogue (Alexandre Ananoff)." Burlington Magazine 121 (February 1979), p. 120, follows Ananoff.

    Alexandre Ananoff with the collaboration of Daniel Wildenstein. L'opera completa di Boucher. Milan, 1980, pp. 140–41, no. 692, colorpl. 58, mention a preparatory study for the present work in the Johannesburg Art Gallery.

    Denys Sutton. François Boucher. Exh. cat., Wildenstein & Co., Inc. New York, 1980, pp. 17, 45, no. 36, fig. 39, notes that although Posner proposes that "Village Idyll" and the "Contented Fisherman" (Charles B. Alexander collection, New York) originally formed a group with the present picture and its pendant, the measurements of these differ greatly from our pair, which is not the case with the earlier ones in Pittsburgh and Norfolk.

    Jefferson C. Harrison. French Paintings from The Chrysler Museum. Exh. cat., Chrysler Museum at Norfolk. Norfolk, Va., 1986, p. 24 n. 5, wonders that Ananoff associates the Chrsyler and Norfolk paintings with our pendants.

    Alastair Laing in François Boucher, 1703–1770. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1986, pp. 163, 305–9, no. 79, ill. (color) [French ed., 1986, pp. 167, 308–12, no. 79, ill. (color)], comments on "a strong sentimentalizing process" in Boucher's late pastorales, specifically these pendants; suggests that its was the "Bonheur au Village" and "Halte à la fontaine" from the Bayerische Landesbank that once formed a decorative ensemble with the Pittsburgh and Norfolk pictures; notes that many of the figures here appear to be adaptations from pre-existing drawings or paintings, including the standing woman's pose which is adapted from one in a 1766 painting engraved as La chasse (Ananoff and Wildenstein no. 632); identifies Roslin d'Ivry as the probable patron for our pendants, noting that in 1768 he was "in the midst of great aggrandizement of Hénonville"; suggests that our pictures were intended to decorate the salon at the château and believes one of them was the "very large Picture" on which Sir Joshua Reynolds saw Boucher at work when he visited him in 1768.

    Denys Sutton. "Frivolity and Reason." Apollo 125 (February 1987), p. 97, follows Ananoff.

    Kimerly Rorschach in Claude to Corot: The Development of Landscape Painting in France. Exh. cat., Colnaghi. New York, 1990, pp. 112–13, ill., remarks that the implied garden signaled by the inclusion of the sculpted fountain helps convey the painting's erotic intent.

    Mary D. Sheriff. "Boucher's Enchanted Islands." Rethinking Boucher. Los Angeles, 2006, p. 161, compares a scene described in Louis-Antoine de Bougainville's 1771 travelogue, "Voyage autour du monde, par la frégate du roi la Boudeuse et la flûte l'Étoile," to this pastoral fantasy by Boucher.

    The Libertine: The Art of Love in Eighteenth-Century France. New York, 2013, ill. pp. 274–75 (color).

  • Notes

    An engraving of the picture by Eugène André Champollion (1848–1901) is published in the Ivry sale catalogue. A copy (156 x 120 cm) appeared in a sale in Rouen, March 10–11, 1975, no. 260 (Laing 1986).

  • See also