Lot 43
  • 43

JEAN-BAPTISTE PATER | Fête Galante: La barque de plaisir

150,000 - 200,000 EUR
bidding is closed


  • Studio of Jean-Baptiste Pater
  • Fête Galante: La barque de plaisir
  • Oil on canvas
  • 74.6 x 93.7 cm; 29 3/8  by 36 5/8  in.


Collection J.W.G. Dawis, Esq., London;
his sale, Paris, Féral/Lechat, 25 February 1869, lot 55 (as « Les baigneuses », sold 4 000 francs);
Private collection.


New York, Berry-Hill Galleries, Visions and Vistas, 25 January - 4 March 2000, no cat. number (catalogue by R.B. Simon).


F. Ingersoll-Smouse, Pater, Paris 1928, p. 46, no. 98 (as "Promenade sur l'eau").


Le tableau apparaît moins rouge et moins foncé que sur l’illustration dans le catalogue. A l’œil nu : Le tableau apparaît dans un état de conservation satisfaisant. La couche picturale est usée. On observe quelques griffures superficielles, notamment une verticale d’environ 1 cm dans le ciel, au milieu. On remarque une craquelure horizontale à 5 cm du bord supérieur, sur environ 30 cm, ainsi qu’une craquelure en escargot dans le tronc en bas à droite. On remarque un tout petit manque de matière dans la pointe de l’oreille du personnage féminin debout qui a été mastiqué mais pas restauré. A la lampe U.V. : On observe des reprises dans la plupart des plis et des contours des vêtements. Les craquelures ont été comblées dans les parties les plus sombres et dans les feuillages. Vendu dans un cadre en bois sculpté doré (quelques éclats). The painting appears less red et less dark/tonal than the catalogue illustration would suggest. With the naked eye : The painting appears to be in fairly good state of conservation. The painted surface appears a bit thin overall. We can observe some surface scratches, notably one vertical of circa 1 cm in the sky area in the centre. There seems to be also a horizontal craquelure( ?) at 5 cm from the upper edge, and also at circa 30 cm, also a pressure point in the foliage lower left. The ear of the principal standing lady has a little ‘mastic’ which has not been touched up. Under UV light : Some of the varnish layer fluoresces, we notice strengthenings in the folds of the figure’s clothing and in their contours. Some of the craquelure has been filled in, notably in the darker areas and in the foliage on the left and rights areas. Offered with a carved and giltwood frame (some chips).
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Dr. Christoph Voghterr has kindly confirmed the attribution on the basis of photographs.

Accepted into the Académie in 1728 with his reception piece Fête champêtre. Soldiers rejoicing [1], 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 [2]. Nicolas Lancret, Watteau's other follower, painted another work inspired by the master (circa 1735, [3]), 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 [4] - and the Prussian king, Frederic II was an avid collector of his works, since he owned not less than fourteen of Pater's works [5].

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 [6]. 

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) [7].

[1] Oil on canvas, 114 x 154 cm, Paris, musée du Louvre, inv. 7137.

[2] Oil on canvas, 129 x 194 cm, Paris, musée du Louvre, inv. 8525.

[3] Oil on canvas, 97 x 145 cm, Paris, musée du Louvre, inv. R.F. 1990-20.

[4] La chasse chinoise, 1736, oil on canvas, 138 x 128 cm, Amiens, Musée de Picardie.

[5] 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.

[6] See De Watteau à Fragonard, les fêtes galantes, cat. exp., Paris, musée Jacquemart-André, 14 March-21 July 2014.

[7] F. Ingersoll-Smouse, op. cit., n° 70, fig. 166.