Accepted into the Académie in 1728 with his reception piece Fête champêtre. Soldiers rejoicing , Jean-Baptiste Pater perpetuated the genre of the fête galante invented by his master, Antoine Watteau. The artist himself confessed how indebted he was to Watteau, whose apprentice he was for only a few weeks, during which, however, he learned nearly everything he knew about the art of painting.
The present canvas, called 'Fête galante: The Barque of Pleasure', and datable of the beginning of the 1730s, clearly carries within it the legacy of Watteau's Pilgrimage to the Isle of Cythera . Nicolas Lancret, Watteau's other follower, painted another work inspired by the master (circa 1735, ), not long after the present work. Like Lancret, Pater specialised in fêtes galantes, staging scenes of elegant figures delighting in elite pastimes such as dance and music.
Pater was born in Valenciennes where he trained with Jean-Baptiste Guidé, a fellow citizen. When the latter died, in 1711, Pater went to Paris where he lived and worked for the remain of his life, besides a short period (1716/18), during which he returned to his native city. It is only after the death of Watteau, at a young age, in 1721, that the demand for his paintings increased considerably. Pater's reputation was by then well established, and with a status as 'Académicien', he received prestigious orders - a Chinese Hunt for the Petit Galerie of the Château de Versailles for instance  - and the Prussian king, Frederic II was an avid collector of his works, since he owned not less than fourteen of Pater's works .
In the present landscape, built up in bold contrasts, young elegant people, probably aristocrats, more or less undressed, are preparing to board a small boat for a pleasure outing on the water. On the deck is a tent decorated for the occasion with flowers. It is also surmounted by the attributes of Love, a subtle message left by the artist marked by his master's libertine spirit and will to return to nature .
An autograph variant of this charming composition exists, although with reduced dimensions (62.5 x 79 cm). It has not resurfaced on the market for more than a century; it is mentioned as having been in London in 1884, in the collection of Alfred de Rothschild, and was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1896 (no. 77) .
 Oil on canvas, 114 x 154 cm, Paris, musée du Louvre, inv. 7137.
 Oil on canvas, 129 x 194 cm, Paris, musée du Louvre, inv. 8525.
 Oil on canvas, 97 x 145 cm, Paris, musée du Louvre, inv. R.F. 1990-20.
 La chasse chinoise, 1736, oil on canvas, 138 x 128 cm, Amiens, Musée de Picardie.
 See: F. Ingersoll-Smouse, Pater, Paris, 1928, n° 26-35-38-46-47-54-57-58-61-229-233-235-239-241-292-293-309-314-326-329-392-416-451-289-502-507-541-558-561.
 See De Watteau à Fragonard, les fêtes galantes, cat. exp., Paris, musée Jacquemart-André, 14 March-21 July 2014.
 F. Ingersoll-Smouse, op. cit., n° 70, fig. 166.
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