The Country Dance
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Gabriel Jacques de Saint-Aubin
French, Paris, about 1760 - 1762
Oil on canvas
20 1/8 x 25 3/8 in.

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In this ambitious composition, fifty figures occupy themselves in activities ranging from the pure frivolity of dancing to the tenderness of a caress shared by mother and child. Inspired by Jean-Antoine Watteau's fêtes galantes, in which elegant people engage in a variety of diversions, often in an idealized park or garden setting, Gabriel de Saint-Aubin devised a similar rural subject.

During the 1700s, country dances had become a popular form of summer entertainment for Parisian society. A tireless chronicler of his time, Saint-Aubin surely would have viewed these dances and theatrical performances on the outskirts of Paris. Drawing on the wit and meticulous observation seen in Dutch paintings of peasants in the 1500s and 1600s, Saint-Aubin refined the rustic folk in a characteristically French Rococo treatment.