The Billet-Doux

The picture is a studio replica of a design often repeated, with minor variations. It shows the arrival or despatch of a love letter (French: billet doux) carried by a dove. The principal figure, barefoot on the right, has a basket of flowers, symbols of Venus, the goddess of love.

This picture, which is dated 1754, can be seen as a demonstration of the popularity of the original, following its exhibition in the Salon of 1753. The original is probably an upright picture (National Gallery of Art, Washington), dated 1750 and painted for Madame de Pompadour.

Key facts

Artist
Artist dates
1703 - 1770
Full title
The Billet-Doux
Date made
1754
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
95.3 x 127 cm
Inscription summary
Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit
Bequeathed by Mrs Edith Cragg, as part of the John Webb Bequest, 1925
Inventory number
NG4080
Location in Gallery