The Fountain of Love

Object Details


The Fountain of Love


François Boucher (French, 1703 - 1770)






Oil on canvas


294.6 x 337.8 cm (116 x 133 in.)

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A youth with a flute gazes languidly at his companionwhile another youth offers a shell full of fresh water to a dainty maiden in a diaphanous gown of purple-gold and red satin. A rosy-cheeked, barefoot woman dressed in red silk looks longingly at the man with the flute. Suitors woo and babies frolic in an idyllic setting of lush, green, leafy trees under a pale blue sky with gray-pink clouds.

By blending sensuality, covert eroticism, and refinement, pastoral paintings such as these brought the world of aristocratic society and amorous games to the countryside. The pastoral genre in which François Boucher excelled delighted his patrons, answering the contemporary nostalgia for nature and excluding coarse reality.

The Fountain of Love,dated 1748, originally served as a finished cartoon for a tapestry, one of a series of six known as the Noble Pastorales. Beginning in 1755, the Beauvais tapestry manufactory wove the tapestries directly over the cartoons. Eventually, the cartoons were cut up into sections and sold separately. The tapestries remain, showing scholars how large the cartoons were and what is missing from them now.

by 1755 - at least 1820

Beauvais Manufactory, French, founded 1664 (Beauvais, France), possibly sold, 1829.

- 1860

Private Collection (Paris, France) [sold, Christie, Manson & Woods, London, June 30, 1860, lot 25, to Ward.]

1860 -


1860/1864 -

Dudley Coutts Marjoribanks, first baron Tweedmouth, 1820 - 1894 (Guisachan, Beauly, Scotland; London, England)

by 1902 -

Dudley Churchill Marjoribanks, third baron Tweedmouth, 1874 - 1935 (London, England)

by 1908 -

Charles J. Wertheimer, 1842 - 1911 (London, England)

- 1919

Herbert Stern, first baron Michelham, 1851 - 1919 (London, England; Paris, France)

by 1919 - 1926

Aimee Geraldine Bradshaw Stern, baroness Michelham, 1882 - 1927 (London, England; Strawberry Hill, Middlesex, England; Paris, France) [sold, Michelham sale, Hampton and Sons, London, November 24, 1926, lot 287, to Jefferson Davis Cohn.]

1926 -

Capt. Jefferson Davis Cohn (Paris, France), sold to Jack Herbert Michelham.

by 1929 - 1934

Jack Herbert Michelham, born 1903, sold, possibly through Jefferson Davis Cohn (Paris, France), to Duveen Brothers, Inc., 1934.

1934 - 1935

Duveen Brothers, Inc. (London, England; New York, New York), sold to Anna Thomson Dodge, 1935.

1935 - 1970

Anna Thomson Dodge, American, born Scotland, 1871 - 1970 (Detroit, Michigan), upon her death, held in trust by the estate.

1970 - 1971

Estate of Anna Thomson Dodge, American, born Scotland, 1871 - 1970 (Detroit, Michigan) [sold, Dodge sale, Christie's, London, June 25, 1971, lot 4, through French and Company (New York, New York) to the J. Paul Getty Museum.]