The Russian Cradle

Object Details

Title:

The Russian Cradle

Artist/Maker:

Jean-Baptiste Le Prince (French, 1734 - 1781)

Culture:

French

Place:

France (Place created)

Date:

about 1764 - 1765

Medium:

Oil on canvas

Dimensions:

59.1 × 72.7 cm (23 1/4 × 28 5/8 in.)

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In a rural setting, a peasant family sits admiring a baby in a cradle suspended from the branches of a tree. The composition takes its name from the distinctive hanging cradle made of boughs lashed together. Surrounded by goats and sheep, an old woman in a red dress and decorative headscarf holds a distaff and points towards the infant as if telling its fortune. The blue sky with pink-tinged clouds recalls the influence of François Boucher, Jean-Baptiste Le Prince's former teacher.

Jean-Baptiste Le Prince served in Saint Petersburg at the court of Catherine the Great between 1760 and 1762. Upon his return to Paris in 1765, he made this painting and thirteen others that he exhibited in the Salon. To an eighteenth-century French audience, this improbable scene would have seemed exotic and picturesque. In reality, Russian peasants were still serfs tied to the land and its owner; it is unlikely that they would have enjoyed the leisure time depicted here.

Based on drawings and recollections from the artist's extensive travels throughout Russia, The Russian Cradle proved immensely popular and was replicated in drawings, prints, and even as decoration on Sèvres porcelain.

Provenance
possibly 1764/1765 - 1777

Michau de Montblin [sold, Montblin sale, Paris, February 25, 1777, lot 6.], possibly commissioned from the artist, 1764/1765.

- 1784

Anne Dubois [sold, Dubois sale, Paris, March 31, 1784, lot 96.]

by 1926 - still in 1935

Galerie Charpentier, Paris (Paris, France)

1940 - 1972

A. Huto (Paris, France), sold to Newhouse Galleries, 1972.

1972

Newhouse Galleries (New York, New York), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1972.

Exhibitions
Salon of 1765 (1765) (Cat. 150)
  • Salon, Palais du Louvre (Paris), 1765
Le goût de Diderot (October 5, 2013 to June 6, 2014)
  • Musée Fabre (Montpellier), October 5, 2013 to January 15, 2014
  • Fondation de l'Hermitage (Lausanne), February 7 to June 1, 2014
Bibliography

Mathon de la Cour, Charles-Joseph. Lettre à Monsieur ***, sur les peintures, les sculptures et les gravures, exposées au sallon du Louvre en 1765 (Paris: D'Houry, 1765) pp. 16-18.

Anonymous. "Suite des observations sur les ouvrages de peinture, sculpture, etc. exposés au Louvre en 1765." Mercure de France 89 (November 1765; repr. Geneva: Slatkine, 1970) p. 158.

Hédou, Jules. Jean-Baptiste Le Prince 1734-1781, peintre et graveur (Paris: 1879, J. Baur) p. 32.

Réau, Louis. "L'Exotisme russe dans l'oeuvre de J.-B. Le Prince." Gazette des Beaux-Arts 3, 5th per. (1921) p. 154.

Réau, Louis. "L'Influence de Fragonard." La Renaissance 18, nos. 1-2 (January-February 1935) p. 5, ill.

Réau, Louis. Le Rayonnement de Paris au XVIIIe siècle (Paris: Robert Laffont, 1946) p. 337, ill.

Bordeaux, Jean-Luc. "The J. Paul Getty Museum: La peinture française." Connaissance des arts, no. 278 (April 1975) pp. 84, 87.

Proust, Jacques. " 'Le Jouer de flûte de Passy': Diderot et l'image du paysannat russe." In Les Préoccupations économiques et sociales [...] au XVIIIe siècle, Actes du colloque, Bruxelles, 26 et 27 mai 1975 (Brussels: Université de Bruxelles, 1976) pp. 225, 227.

Catalogues of the Paris Salon. Horst Woldemar Janson, ed. 60 vols. (New York: Garland Publishing, 1977-1978) vol. 4, 1765, p. 27, no. 150.

Diderot, Denis. "Salon of 1765." In Salons. Jean Seznec and Jean Adhémar, eds. 3 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1960) vol. 2, pp. 40 n. 67, 176-77.

Bukdahl, Else Marie. Diderot, critique d'art. 2 vols. (Copenhagen: Rosenkilde et Bagger, 1980) pp. 220, 224, 285-86.

Hellyer, Mary-Elizabeth. "Recherches sur Jean-Baptiste Le Prince (1734-1781)." Ph.D. diss. 2 vols. (Université de Paris IV, 1982) vol. 2, pp. 303, 304.

Diderot, Denis. Salon de 1765. Else Marie Bukdahl and Annette Lorenceau, eds. (Paris: Hermann, 1984) pp. 231-33, no. 151.

Clermont-Joly, Magdeleine, Lossky, Boris, et al. Jean-Baptiste Le Prince, exh. cat. (Metz: Musée d'art et d'histoire, 1988) unpaginated, under no. 28.

Stein, Perrin. "Le Prince, Diderot et le débat sur la Russie au temps des Lumières." Revue de l'art 112, no. 2 (1996) pp. 16-27, cover ill.

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997) p. 72, ill.

Jarrassé, Dominique. La Peinture française au XVIII siècle (Paris: Bayard Presse, 1998) pp. 143, 146-47, ill.

Voreaux, Gérard. Les peintres lorrains du dix-huitième siècle (Paris: Editions Messene, 1998) p. 190.

Pierre-Dulau, Marie-Liesse. "Trois artistes lorrains à Saint-Pétersbourg au XVIIIe siècle." In L'Influence française en Russie au XVIIIe siècle, actes du colloque, Fondation Singer-Polignac,14 et 15 mars 2003 (Paris: Institut d'études slaves, 2004) pp. 132, 138-39.

Sørensen, Madeleine Pinault. "Le Prince et les dessinateurs et graveurs du 'Voyage en Sibérie.'" In Chappe d'Auteroche: Voyage en Sibérie, Michel Mervaud, ed. 2 vols. (Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 2004) vol. 1, p. 133, n. 6.

Kuxhausen, Anna. From the Womb to the Body Politic: Raising the Nation in Enlightenment Russia (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2013) cover ill.