The Fountain of Love

Object Details


The Fountain of Love


François Boucher (French, 1703 - 1770)






Oil on canvas


294.6 × 337.8 cm (116 × 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)
Source: Photographed in 1902 at Brook House, London, for Country Life.

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.
Source: Duveen records, GRI, Box 440, F-2; Duveen records, GRI, Box 440, F-1; Burke's Peerage.

by 1929 - 1934

Jack Herbert Michelham, born 1903, sold, possibly through Jefferson Davis Cohn (Paris, France), to Duveen Brothers, Inc., 1934.
Source: Duveen records, GRI, Box 440, F-2; Duveen records, GRI, Box 440, F-1; Burke's Peerage.

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.]


Burty, Philippe. "Vente de tableaux a londres." Gazette des Beaux-Arts 7 (July 1860), p. 315.

"Picture Sales." The Art-Journal 6 (1860), p. 247.

"Revue des ventes publiques: Ville de Londres." Moniteur des Arts: revue permanente des expositions et des ventes publiques 3, no. 108 (1860).

Christie, Manson & Woods, London. Catalogue of the Very Celebrated Pair of Portraits by Rembrandt...and of Two Noble Chef-d'oeuvres by Boucher [...]. June 30, 1860, p. 4, lot. 25.

Nolhac, Pierre de. François Boucher, premier peintre du roi, 1703-1770 (Paris: Goupil, 1907), p. 63, ill. facing p. 64.

Macfall, Haldane. Boucher: The Man, His Times, His Art, and His Significance (London: The Connoisseur, 1908), pp. 33, 90, ill.

Badin, Jules. La manufacture de tapisseries de Beauvais depuis ses origines jusqu'à nos jours (Paris: Société de propagation des livres d'art, 1909), p. 105.

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Hampton & Sons, London. 2nd Day's Sale. The Michelham Collection. Catalogue of Pictures[...]. November 24, 1926, p. 54, lot 287, ill.

Duveen and Co. A Catalogue of Works of Art in the Collection of Anna Thomson Dodge: Paintings, Tapestries, Furniture, and objets d'art. 2 vols. (Detroit: n.p., 1939), vol. 2, unpaginated, ill.

Townsend, Gertrude. "A Pastoral by François Boucher." Bulletin of the Museum of Fine Arts 38, no. 230 (December 1940), pp. 84-85.

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Christie, Manson & Woods, London. Highly Important Pictures by Old Masters. June 25, 1971, p. 8, lot 4, ill.

La Coste-Messelière, M.-G. de. "Anatomie d'une vente publique." L'Oeil no. 197 (May 1971), pp. 27, 30-31, fig. 4.

Fredericksen, Burton B. Catalogue of the Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1972), pp. 96-97, no. 130, ill.

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Fredericksen, Burton B., et al. Guidebook: The J. Paul Getty Museum. 3rd ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1976), p. 67.

Standen, Edith A. "Some Notes on the Cartoons Used at the Gobelins and Beauvais Tapestry Manufactories in the Eighteenth Century." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 4 (1977), p. 27.

Eitner, Lorenz. "Cages, Prisons, and Captives in Eighteenth-Century Art." In Images of Romanticism: Verbal and Visual Affinities. Karl Kroeber and William Walling, eds. (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1978), p. 16n5.

Fredericksen, Burton B., Jiří Frel, and Gillian Wilson. Guidebook: The J. Paul Getty Museum. 4th ed. Sandra Morgan, ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1978), pp. 84, 86, ill.

Ananoff, Alexandre, and Daniel Wildenstein. L'opera completa di Boucher (Milan: Rizzoli, 1980), p. 112, fig. 333a.

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Fredericksen, Burton B., et al. The J. Paul Getty Museum Guidebook. 5th ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1980), pp. 76-77, ill.

Black, Janet. "Idyllic Landscape with a Woman Fishing : Nature and Sensibilité in the Art of Boucher." Perceptions: An Annual Publication of the Indianapolis Museum of Art 2 (1982), pp. 31-32, fig. 5.

Regency to Empire: French Printmaking 1715-1814, exh. cat. (Baltimore: Baltimore Museum of Art, 1984), p. 256, under no. 89, entry by Victor Carlson.

Bailey, Colin B., ed. The First Painters of the King: French Royal Taste from Louis XIV to the Revolution, exh. cat. (New York: Stair Sainty Matthiesen, 1985), p. 130, no. 38, ill.

Laing, Alastair, et al. François Boucher, 1703 -1770, exh. Cat. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1986), p. 282, under no. 69, fig. 182, entry by Alastair Laing.

Französische Zeichnungen im Städelschen Kunstinstitut, 1550 bis 1800, exh. cat. (Frankfurt: Städtische Galerie im Städelschen Kunstinstitut, 1986), pp. 114-15, under no. 88, fig. 88a.

Brunel, Georges. Boucher (Paris: Flammarion, 1986), p. 174.

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Ader Picard Tajan, Paris. Importants dessins et tableaux anciens. June 28, 1988, unpaginated, under lot 29.

Hyde, Melissa. "Confounding Conventions: Gender Ambiguity and François Boucher's Painted Pastorals." Eighteenth-Century Studies 30, no. 1 (Fall 1996), p. 56, no. 64.

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 13, ill.

Simon, Robert B. Figure and Fantasy in French Painting, 1650-1800, exh. cat. (New York: Berry-Hill Galleries, Inc., 1999), p. 34.

Cornforth, John. London Interiors: From the Archives of Country Life (London: Aurum Press, 2000), p. 129, ill.

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Sheriff, Mary D. "Boucher's Enchanted Islands." In Rethinking Boucher. Melissa Hyde and Mark Ledbury, eds. (Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2006), pp. 170, 190, pl. 13.

Hall, Michael. "Bric-A-Brac: A Rothchild's Memoir of Collecting." Apollo 166, no. 545 (July-August 2007), pp. 58, 63n24.

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Tajan, Paris. Tableaux anciens et du XIXe siècle. June 23, 2009, p. 48, under lot 45.