A Serenade Near a Fountain (Primary Title)

Jacques de Lajoüe, French, 1687 - 1761 (Artist)

ca. 1725
Oil on canvas
Unframed: 45 x 54 in.
Framed: 57 x 66 x 6 in.
Colorful, lush, and bursting with fantasy and wit, the art of Jacques de Lajoüe perfectly embodies what came to be known as the Rococo picturesque genre in early 18th-century France. The artist was a decorator as well as a painter, and inventive depictions of dreamlike park and garden scenes like this one were immensely fashionable as decorative panels. Lajoüe’s paintings and decors were intended to surround his aristocratic patrons with the creations of his fantastic imagination. He often incorporated surprising interactions between the painting’s human characters and the inanimate figures that decorated sculpture or architecture in the composition. This work features two actors of the commedia dell’arte (a popular form of improvised theater using stock characters and situations) serenading a lone woman, each man apparently hoping to seduce her with his talent. This trivial scene of everyday desires occupies only a small portion of the canvas. Clearly, Lajoüe preferred to devote considerable space to the lavishly ornate and monumentally sized fountain. Although the woman’s reaction is not visible to the viewer, the sculpted nymphs that laze upon the fountain appear completely enamored with the performance.
The Jordan and Thomas A. Saunders III Collection

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