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.
Shepherd’s Idyll and 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. In the last full year of his life, 1769, demonstrating his continuing vitality in old age, he painted 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 Jean Marie Roslin, seigneur d’Ivry, for the family château at Hénonville. The seigneur d’Ivry was connected through his wife 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.
[Katharine Baetjer 2014]
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower right): fBoucher 1768
probably Jean-Baptiste Paulin Hector Edme Roslin, seigneur d'Ivry, château d'Hénonville, near Beauvais (until d. 1790); his grandson, baron Jean-Baptiste Marie Roslin d'Ivry, château d'Hénonville (1790–d. 1839); his son, baron Léopold Roslin d'Ivry, Paris (1839–d. 1883; his estate sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, May 7, 1884, no. 3 (with no. 4) 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, Newport and New York (1907/8–d. 1936); his sister, Julia A. Berwind, New York (1936–53)
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 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).
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 the château at Hénonville were transferred by his son to Paris, rue de la Baume, where the author "recently" saw the present picture and its pendant in the anteroom; states that at the 1884 sale the two were bought back 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, , 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, 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 formed a group with nos. 682 and 683, both dated 1769 (confusing 682 and 683 with nos. 82 and 83); believe all four were made for the duc de Richelieu.
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.
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" originally formed a group with the present picture and its pendant, the measurements differ greatly from our pair, which is not the case with the earlier ones in Pittsburgh and Norfolk.
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.
Alastair Laing inFrançois 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), as "L'idylle du berger"], comments on "a strong sentimentalizing process" in Boucher's late pastorales; suggests that "Bonheur au Village" and "Halte à la fontaine" from the Bayerische Landesbank once formed an ensemble with the Pittsburgh and Norfolk pictures; identifies Roslin d'Ivry as the probable patron; believes one of the two was the "very large Picture" on which Joshua Reynolds saw Boucher at work in 1768.
Jefferson C. Harrison. French Paintings from The Chrysler Museum. Exh. cat., Chrysler Museum at Norfolk. Norfolk, Va., 1986, p. 24 n. 5, questions Ananoff.
Georges Brunel. Boucher. London, 1986, fig. 175.
Denys Sutton. "Frivolity and Reason." Apollo 125 (February 1987), p. 97, follows Ananoff.
Kimerly Rorschach inClaude 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. Ed. Melissa Hyde and Mark Ledbury. 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.
Michel Delon, ed. The Libertine: The Art of Love in Eighteenth-Century France. New York, 2013, ill. pp. 274–75 (color).
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).