Jean-Baptiste Pater (Valenciennes 1695-1736 Paris)
Halte de Chasse oil on canvas 56 x 47cm (22 1/16 x 18 1/2in).
PROVENANCE: Laurent Richard. His sale, 7 April 1873, lot 42 (12,300 fr.) Comte A. de Camondo. His sale, 1893, lot 19 (16,000 fr.) Gimpel, Paris, 1900, from whom purchased 9 April 1900 (24,000 fr.) by George Crocker His sister, Mrs Charles B. Alexander, 1928 Her grandson, Charles S. Whitehouse, New York, 1935, and thence by family descent to the present owner
EXHIBITED: Paris, Palais-Bourbon, 1874, Exposition en faveur des Alsaciens-Lorrains de l'Algérie, no. 381 California, Palace of the Legion of Honour, Fifteen Masters of the Eighteenth Century, November 27-December 15 1928, no. 2346 (the property of Mrs Charles B. Alexander) New York, World's Fair, Masterpieces of Art, 1939, cat. no. 214 (the property of Charles S. Whitehouse)
LITERATURE: F. Ingersoll-Smouse, L'Art Français Collection Dirigée par Georges Wildenstein: Pater (Paris, 1921), no. 379, p.67, ill. fig. 182, p. 197
A drawing by the artist in sanguine chalk, representing the servant on the left uncorking a bottle, was in the collection of Monsieur Alvin-Beaumont, Paris, in 1921.
As distinct from the more prolific fêtes galantes, the present painting is one of 18 hunting subjects by Jean-Baptiste Pater that Ingersoll-Smouse recorded as being known in 1921 and as such has a significant place in the artist's oeuvre. In 1736 Pater was commissioned by Louis XV to paint a Chasse Chinoise for the Petite Galerie du Roi at Versailles. This was one of a group of 6 paintings representing hunting scenes, the others being by Jean-François de Troy, Charles Parrocel, Nicolas Lancret, Carle van Loo and François Boucher (now in the Musée d'Amiens). Pater was thus one of the instigators of what was to become a fashionable new genre. Although Pater's master, Jean-Antoine Watteau, painted an Halte de Chasse (now in the Wallace Collection, London) as early as circa 1718-20, the establishment of this specific new genre, which combined the outdoor setting of the fête galante with the portrayal of fashionable society in the tableau de mode was something of an innovation. The very first recorded example of this specific genre was perhaps de Troy's Picnic and Rest during the Hunt which he completed in 1723 (Museu de São Paolo). This genre reflected the particular passions of Louis XV. While all the Bourbon kings were enthusiastic about hunting, Louis XV hunted at least 3 times a week; he was known to have killed more than 250 game in a day; he used to feed his dogs every day after dinner; and his Master of the Hounds, the Duc de Rochefoucauld, played a prime role at court.
Here we see aristocratic figures in a rustic setting: a charming and vibrant image of noble culture, whose privileged status had for centuries been defined by the hunt. The present scene records the elevated rank of the hunters through their rich costumes and the number of retainers at their service. It was believed that hunting was not only an energetic and healthy sport, but by the pursuit of wild animals and game, of the kind that were harmful to crops, the nobility were performing a service to their tenants. The picnic following the hunt was also a pretext for a highly refined mode of courtship and the aspect of the amorous pursuit is overtly portrayed in the present scene.