This painting was part of the collection of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia (1740–1786), who was a great admirer of Lancret and had over twenty-six of his paintings. Probably executed in the early 1730s, this work has stylistic similarities with Dance between the Pavilion and the Fountain (1732) and Dance before a Tree (1730–5), both belonging to the Castle of Charlottenburg in Berlin. A study for the reclining male figure on the left of the composition, from the mid-1720s, can be seen at the Ackland Art Museum, North Carolina.
Introduced into France by Claude Gillot (1673–1722), Fête Galante, a generic designation which is also used as the title of the work, consists of a type of representation of refined outdoor scenes depicting elegant-looking people in a pleasant mundane gathering. The figures are arranged scenographically in the space, a result of the influence of theatre on this type of representation.
Frederick II, King of Prussia; Imperial German Family; Neues Palais, Potsdam, 1923. Acquired by Calouste Gulbenkian through Hans Stiebel, Berlin, 9 January 1930.
H. 64.5 cm; W. 69.5 cm
Georges Wildenstein, Lancret. Paris: 1924, p. 93, no. 333.
European Paintings from the Gulbenkian Collection, exhibition catalogue. Washington D. C.: National Gallery of Art, 1950, pp. 50–1, cat. 20.
Katharine Baetjer and James David Draper (eds.), 'Only the Best'. Masterpieces of the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon, exhibition catalogue. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1999, pp. 90–1, cat. 43.
Luísa Sampaio, Painting in the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum. Lisbon: Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, 2009, pp. 74–5, cat. 27.
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