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Jean-Baptiste Pater, 'Fête Galante', probably about 1721-5

Key facts
Full title Fête Galante
Artist Jean-Baptiste Pater
Artist dates 1695 - 1736
Date made probably about 1721-5
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 74.9 × 114.9 cm
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Mrs Edith Cragg, as part of the John Webb Bequest, 1925
Inventory number NG4079
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Fête Galante
Jean-Baptiste Pater

This type of painting, known as a fête galante, was developed by Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684‒1721) and usually shows figures wearing ball dress or masquerade costume dancing and enjoying themselves in an idyllic country setting. Pater was taught by Watteau and painted large numbers of these sorts of scenes inspired by his work, which found ready buyers in Paris.

Here 28 figures are in parkland making music, dancing and courting. The lady and gentleman dancing in the centre are watched by the crowd, who are mainly arranged in couples. A violinist, oboist and hurdy-gurdy player make music while children play with a puppy, and an enslaved Black page boy (he wears what looks like a gold collar which would denote he is enslaved) sees to the wine cooler. A number of the figures in this painting resemble those in paintings by or prints after Watteau. The picture is likely to have been painted early in Pater’s career, in the early 1720s.

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