Before the Ball

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Currently on view at: Getty Center, Museum South Pavilion, Gallery S201

Object Details


Before the Ball


Jean-François de Troy (French, 1679 - 1752)






Oil on canvas


83 x 65.4 cm (32 11/16 x 25 3/4 in.)

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A maid puts the finishing touches on her mistress's hair while two women lean in to listen breathlessly to what she is saying. Partially disguised and holding masks, they wear lavish cloaks in anticipation of the evening festivities ahead. Candles flicker, illuminating the eager faces of the group and contributing to the mood of hushed expectancy.

Jean-Francois de Troy developed the tableaux de mode, depictions of scenes from upper-class life with an emphasis on sumptuous costumes, opulent interiors, and hints of amorous intrigue. At the time, some critics disapproved of the aristocratic life of leisure celebrated by paintings like this one. Before the Ball was exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1737 with its companion piece, After the Ball. When exhibited, the pair was declared De Troy's finest work.

about 1735 - 1737

Germain-Louis de Chauvelin, marquis de Grosbois and garde des Sceaux, 1685 - 1762 (Paris, France), commissioned from the artist, 1735; paintings apparently left behind in Paris upon his exile, 1737.

by 1757 - 1769

Salomon-Pierre Prousteau, died 1781 (Paris, France) [sold, Rémy, rue des Tournelles, Paris, May 6, 1769, lot 46, with a pendant, to Jacques Langlier.]

1769 -

Jacques Lenglier, French, died 1814 (Paris, France)

- 1812

Private Collection [possibly unsold, Shaw, Derby, England, May 20, 1812, lot 58; sold, Smith, Leicester, June 12, 1812, lot 50, with pendant, to Thomas Pares.]

1812 - 1824

Thomas Pares, 1746 - 1824 (Hopwell Hall, Derby, England), by inheritance to his brother, John Pares, 1824.

1824 - 1833

John Pares, 1749 - 1833, by inheritance to Thomas Pares, 1833.

1833 - 1866

Thomas Pares, 1790 - 1866, by inheritance to Thomas Henry Pares, 1866.

1866 - 1878

Thomas Henry Pares, 1830 - 1878, by inheritance to Edward Henry Pares, 1878.

1878 - possibly 1893

Edward Henry Pares, 1854 - 1931 (Hopwell Hall, Derby, England) [possibly sold, Hopwell Hall sale, December 11-14, 1893, lot 432.]

- 1948

Morton Lee, Esq. (London, England), sold to Wildenstein & Co., 1948.

1948 - 1984

Wildenstein & Company (New York, New York), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1984.

Salon of 1737 (1737)
La Douce France: Det Ljuva Frankrike. Mästarmåningar från tre sekler ur Collections Wildenstein, Durand-Ruel, Bernheim-Jeune (August 7 to October 11, 1964) (Cat. 1)
  • Nationalmuseum, (Stockholm), August 7 to October 11, 1964
Benefit Exhibition for the Arthritis Foundation (October 9, 1968) (No cat.)
  • Wildenstein & Company, (New York), October 9 to October 9, 1968
French Genre Painting in the Age of Watteau, Chardin, and Fragonard (June 6, 2003 to May 9, 2004) (Cat. 27)
  • National Gallery of Canada, (Ottawa), June 6 to September 7, 2003
  • National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.), October 12, 2003 to January 11, 2004
Paris: Life & Luxury (April 26, 2011 to January 2, 2012) (Cat. 99a)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), April 26 to August 7, 2011
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, September 18, 2011 to January 2, 2012

"Acquisitions/1984." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 13 (1985), pp. 210-11, no. 140, ill.

Laing, Alastair, et al. François Boucher, 1703-1770, exh. cat. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1986), pp. 181-82, under no. 33.

Fredericksen, Burton B. Masterpieces of Painting in the J. Paul Getty Museum. Rev. ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1988), unpaginated, no. 34, ill.

Fredericksen, Burton B., et al. Masterpieces of Painting in the J. Paul Getty Museum. 3rd ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1995), unpaginated, no. 33, ill., entry by Burton B. Fredericksen.

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 127, ill.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 6th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2001), p. 128, ill.

Bremer-David, Charissa, ed. Paris: Life & Luxury in the Eighteenth Century, exh. cat. (Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2011), pp. 121, 133, no. 99a, entry by Emily Beeny.

Related Media
  • /
    Audio: Before The Ball
  • /
    Audio: Before the Ball / After the Ball (Exhibit: PLL)