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Nicolas Lancret, A Lady in a Garden having Coffee with Children

Key facts
Full title A Lady in a Garden having Coffee with Children
Artist Nicolas Lancret
Artist dates 1690 - 1743
Date made probably 1742
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 88.9 × 97.8 cm
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Sir John Heathcoat Amory, with life interest to Lady Amory by whom presented, 1973
Inventory number NG6422
Location Room 33
Collection Main Collection
A Lady in a Garden having Coffee with Children
Nicolas Lancret

A wealthy family enjoy coffee beside a fountain. The mother offers a spoon from her cup to her little daughter. The father sits beside them holding the tray while their servant pours coffee from the pot into his cup. The painting is more likely to be a genre scene than a portrait of a particular family as none of the figures shows any awareness of the viewer, as would be usual in a portrait. The painting used to be known as ‘La Tasse de Chocolat’ (‘The Cup of Chocolate’) until it was noticed that the pot is one generally used for serving coffee.

The sentiment the figures display, their solid positioning in space, the compositional balance between the triangle made by the family group and the circular form of the fountain and the play of strong colours across the picture’s surface make this one of Lancret’s most accomplished paintings.

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