The picnic worth £350,000 at Bonhams

Old Master Paintings
3 Jul 2013
London, New Bond Street

Louis XV hunting scene shows pursuit of aristocrats

Halte de Chasse, an exquisite painting by Jean-Baptiste Pater (1695-1736) is expected to fetch in the region of £250,000-£350,000 at Bonhams Old Master Paintings sale on 3rd July.

Beautifully preserved, the painting has been in the same American family's collection for over 100 years, since its purchase in Paris in 1900, for the sum of 24,000 francs.

In 1736 Jean Baptiste Pater was commissioned by Louis XV of France to paint a Chasse Chinoise for the King's apartments at Versailles. 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. Known to have killed more than 250 game in a day, Louis XV fed his hunting dogs each evening after dinner and his Master of the Hounds played a prime role at court. Jean Baptiste Pater was one of the instigators of what was to become a fashionable new subject.

In Halte de Chasse we see aristocratic figures in a rustic setting: a vibrant image of aristocratic culture, whose privileged status had for centuries been defined by the hunt. It was believed that hunting was not only an energetic and healthy sport, but that the nobility were performing a service to their tenants by the pursuit of wild animals and game that were harmful to crops. The elevated rank of the hunters is portrayed through their rich costumes and the number of staff at their service.

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 this scene with the young men fussing over the two central ladies in their pink and yellow skirts.

Halte de Chasse is one of eighteen hunting subjects by the artist which combined the portrayal of fashionable society with the outdoor setting of the 'fête galante' or pursuit of aristocrats. This was something of an innovation.


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