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François Boucher: 'Landscape with a Watermill'

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This painting may be a fanciful representation of the watermill at Quinquengrogne, a site near Charenton on the outskirts of Paris. The mill also appears in other landscapes by Boucher. Figures, buildings and trees are all painted in the same fluent technique that makes them appear of one substance. The composition spreads in controlled asymmetry to each side of the stream in the foreground, leading to the wheel of the mill. A milkmaid to the left, inclining with the weight of her pail, exchanges glances with a boy fishing, and a flock of doves takes wing in the air above. This scene is observed by a girl laundering on the right bank of the stream, beyond which a river appears with a herdsman driving animals across a bridge.

The mill is the focus for an idyllic representation of rural life with distant echoes of the work of Jacob van Ruisdael and the Italianate Dutch landscape painters whom Boucher admired. He was the owner of Nicolaes Berchem's 'A Man and a Youth Ploughing with Oxen', now in the National Gallery's Collection.

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