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Fete Champetre, c. 1730

Jean-Baptiste Pater
French, 1695-1736
Oil on canvas
22-1/8 x 26 in. (56.2 x 66.0 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
© The Norton Simon Foundation

Not on View

A quintessential Rococo painting, Pater’s Fête Champêtre portrays the aristocracy in leisure pursuit. The bucolic setting of this playful gathering derives ultimately from the garden party, a form of entertainment popular at the French court. Elegantly attired men, women and children converse, play music, and enjoy the beauty of the natural setting. The asymmetrical composition, free from a commanding perspective and the sensuous palette of warm and pastel colors combine to create a light and dreamy atmosphere. The idyllic tone of the gathering is further underscored by two marble putti and a dolphin, at top right, which emphasize the carefree activity of the gathering below.

This painting resided in two important collections prior to Mr. Simon’s acquisition. In the late nineteenth century, it was owned by Ferdinand de Rothschild (1839–1898), an English art collector and member of the prominent Austrian Rothschild Family of bankers. The Pater was sold in 1939 to benefit the Lord Baldwin Fund, a program dedicated to the aid of Jewish child refugees from World War II. Shortly thereafter, the painting entered the collection of Mrs. Meyer Sassoon, a notable collector of eighteenth century French paintings.

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