The J. Paul Getty Museum

Dance before a Fountain

Object Details


Dance before a Fountain


Nicolas Lancret (French, 1690 - 1743)




France (Place Created)


by 1724


Oil on canvas

Object Number:



97.8 × 130.8 cm (38 1/2 × 51 1/2 in.)

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Object Description

In a luxuriant park adorned with a monumental fountain, two couples perform a country dance, accompanied by the music of a rustic bagpipe. On either side, other couples play out the game of love in its various stages of anticipation, entreaty, and reward.

Lancret's subject was an invention of the 1700s. Called a fête galante,these paintings depicted a pastoral landscape peopled by elegant figures strolling, making music, or attempting to woo their partners. Participants of the fête galante seemed uninhibited by the stiff conventions of formal society.

Lancret's fluid brushstroke is evident in the shimmering highlights of the costumes and in the play of their opulent colors against the harmony of the landscape background. The painting's relatively large size suggests that it was commissioned by a prominent collector, possibly an aristocratic patron or member of the French royalty.

after 1785 - 1796

Empress Catherine II of Russia, 1729 - 1796 (St. Petersburg, Russia)

1796/1797 - before 1859

State Hermitage Museum (St. Petersburg, Russia)

by 1862

Robert Henry Herbert, 12th earl of Pembroke, 9th earl of Montgomery, English, 1791 - 1862 (Paris, France) [sold, Pembroke sale, Escribe and Laneuville, Paris, June 30, 1862, lot 10, to Ferdinand Laneuville, possibly for Edouard Mathurin Fould.]

1862 -

Ferdinand Laneuville (Paris, France)

- 1869

Edouard Mathurin Fould, 1834 - 1881 (Paris, France) [sold, Fould sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, April 5, 1869, lot 10, to M. Rouzé for Gustave (Samuel James) Salomon de Rothschild.]

1869 - 1911

Baron Gustave Samuel James de Rothschild, 1829 - 1911 (Paris, France), by inheritance to his son, Robert Philippe Gustave de Rothschild, 1911.

1911 -

Baron Robert (Philippe Gustave) de Rothschild, 1880 - 1946, looted by the Nazis.


In the possession of the Nazis, restituted to the Rothschild family.

- 1982

Baron James Gustave Jules Alain (Alain) de Rothschild, French, 1910 - 1982 (Paris, France), by inheritance to Robert James de Rothschild, 1982.

1982 - 2001

Robert James de Rothschild, French, born 1947 (Paris, France), sold to Didier Aaron & Cie, 2001.


Didier Aaron & Cie (Paris, France), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 2001.

Exposition au profit de la colonisation de l'Algérie par les Alsaciens-Lorrains (April 23, 1874)
  • Palais Bourbon (Paris), 1874
Danse et divertissements (1948 to 1949)
  • Galerie Charpentier, Paris, 1948 to 1949
Watteau, Music, and Theater (September 21 to November 29, 2009)
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), September 21 to November 29, 2009

Escribe, Laneuville, Paris. Catalogue de tableaux de l'école française, XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles [...]. June 30, 1862, p. 9, lot 16.

Lagrange, Léon. "Mouvement des arts et de la curiosité: Vente du Comte de Pembroke, 30 Juin 1862." Gazette des Beaux-Arts 13, no. 2 (August 1862), p. 191.

Hôtel Drouot, Paris. Catalogue des objets d'art et [...] des tableaux anciens et modernes composant les collections de M. Édouard Fould. April 5-9, 1869, p. 9, lot 10.

Explication des ouvrages de peinture exposés au profit de la colonisation de l'Algérie par les Alsaciens-Lorrains [...], exh. cat. (Paris: Palais de la Présidence du Corps législatif, 1874), p. 51, no. 279.

Wildenstein, Georges. Lancret: Biographie et catalogue critiques, l'oeuvre de l'artiste [...] (Paris: Les Beaux-Arts, 1924), p. 80, no. 133, fig. 35.

Ingersoll-Smouse, Florence. Pater: Biographie et catalogue critiques (Paris: Les Beaux-Arts, 1928), p. 47, under no. 111.

Cocteau, Jean, ed. Danse et divertissements, exh. cat. (Paris: Galerie Charpentier, 1948), unpaginated, no. 130, ill.

Börsch-Supan, Helmut, and Margarete Kühn, eds. La peinture française du XVIIIe siècle à la cour de Frédéric II, exh. cat. (Paris: Louvre, 1963), under no. 7.

Holmes, Mary Tavener. "Nicolas Lancret and Genre Themes of the Eighteenth Century." Ph.D. diss. (New York University, 1986), pp. 19, 43, fig. 38.

Holmes, Mary Tavener. Nicolas Lancret, 1690-1743, exh. cat. Joseph Focarino, ed. (New York: The Frick Collection, with H. N. Abrams, 1991), p. 74, under no. 8.

Allen, Denise, et al. Masterpieces of Painting in the J. Paul Getty Museum. Rev. ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, with Thames & Hudson, 2003), p. 76, no. 40, ill., entry by Jon L. Seydl.

Holmes, Mary Tavener. Nicolas Lancret: Dance Before a Fountain (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2006), passim, fig. 1.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 7th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2007), p. 122, ill.

Baetjer, Katharine, ed. Watteau, Music, and Theater, exh. cat. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, with Yale University Press, 2009), pp. 58-60, no. 18, ill., entry by Mary Tavener Holmes.

Holmes, Mary Tavener. "Nicolas Lancret: Île de France or Île de Cythère?" Technè 30/31 (2009-10), pp. 210-12, fig. 1.

Vogtherr, Christoph Martin. Französische Gemälde I: Watteau, Pater, Lancret, Lajoüe (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 2011), pp. 512-13, fig. 5.

Fredericksen, Burton B. The Burdens of Wealth: Paul Getty and His Museum (Bloomington: Archway Publishing, 2015), p. 400.

Allan, Scott, Davide Gasparotto, Peter Björn Kerber, and Anne T. Woollett. Masterpieces of Painting: J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2018), pp. 13, 93, ill.

Education Resources
Education Resources

Education Resource




All I Want to Do Is Dance, Dance, Dance!

Students observe and model dance movements in a drawing and painting, create a quick gesture sketch and painting, and write a persuasive speech.

Visual Arts; English–Language Arts; Dance


Three/Five-Part Lesson

Language through Art (Beginning)

Lesson in which students study artwork related to people and leisure, and use related vocabulary, creating written and oral descriptions.

Visual Arts; English–Language Arts; ESL (English as a Second Language)

K-2; 3-5; 6-8; 9-12; Adult Learners

Single Class Lesson