The Russian Cradle

Object Details

Title:

The Russian Cradle

Artist/Maker(s):

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

Culture:

French

Place(s):

France (Place created)

Date:

about 1764 - 1765

Medium:

Oil on canvas

Dimensions:

59.1 x 72.7 cm (23 1/4 x 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)
  • Salon, Palais du Louvre (Paris), 1765, (Cat. 150)
Le goût de Diderot (October 5, 2013 to June 6, 2014)
  • Musée Fabre, (Montpellier), October 5, 2013 to January 15, 2014, (Cat.)
  • Fondation de l'Hermitage, (Lausanne), February 7 to June 1, 2014, (Cat.)
Bibliography

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