A Shepherd Teaching a Shepherdess to Play the Flute

Attributed to:
Soldini, Luigi (b.1715, d.Post 1772)
previously attributed to François Boucher (French, b.1703, d.1770)
dated by artist's activity and stylistically
Place of production:
Paris, France
oil on canvas
Type of object:
Accession number:


Once attributed to François Boucher, this overdoor is now thought to be by the little known artist Luigi Dominique Soldini. It relates to two of Boucher's compositions and is similar to a painting by a follower of Christian Wilhelm Ernst Dietrich, called Dietrichy (1712-1774). The idea may have come from an unknown engraving and shows Boucher's style remained popular with a range of patrons.

The composition is similar, though in reverse, to a painting attributed to a follower of Dietrich, a skilled imitator of who was court painter at Dresden, which was sold by Sotheby's, New York, 7 October 1994, lot 150. Soldini may have taken his idea from the same source, such as an engraving.

Soldini was born in Florence but was in Paris by the early 1750s. In 1753 he exhibited at the Salon and in 1754 he joined the Académie de Saint-Luc, the painter's guild academy that rivalled the more prestigious Académie Royale de Peinture et Sculpture. Soldini painted mostly religious imagery and scenes of everyday life, as in this example. He is also known to have painted mythological scenes. He used figures and compositions from Boucher's work to construct his paintings. Whilst an incredibly popular artist, Boucher's work and the rococo style began to criticised from the 1750s on for its frivolity and bad taste. Soldini's painting is evidence that less wealthy patrons continued to want to purchase such works for their interior decoration.

No exactly similar compositions are known to have been painted by Boucher. However, it is very similar to the artist's work known as 'The Agreeable Lesson' of 1748 (National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne). A shepherd sits to the right next to some ruins. He guides a shepherdess to the left to play a pipe that points down. The composition was engraved by R. Gaillard in reverse. In 1752 the Sèvres porcelain factory produced a group inspired by the composition, under the title of 'Flûteur'. Boucher also used this idea for his painting 'La Leçon de Flûte, or Les Jeunes Bergers', which shows young children in a similar pose. The phrase 'Il souvient toujours à Robin de ses flûtes' can mean that someone finds it very easy to return to the follies of youth (Ananoff, nos 311, 374).

Phillippa Plock, 2011

Physical description

Dimensions (mm):
641 x 933
Approx 580 x 905 - sight
Signature & date:
not signed or dated
[on verso, on stretcher, upper centre to centre centre, pencil and chalk]
[on verso, on stretcher, upper left, round handwritten label]

[on verso, on stretcher, upper left, round handwritten label]

J. Chenue, French Packer, [? girl with ?] 10 Great St Andrews street, Shaftesbury Avenue, London W.C.
[on verso, on stretcher, upper centre, printed oval label with handwritten inscription in pencil]

J. Chenue, French Packer, London
Printed label
[on verso, on frame, upper left, torn printed label]


Acquired by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild (b.1839, d.1898); inherited by his sister Alice de Rothschild (b.1847, d.1922); inherited by her great-nephew James de Rothschild (b.1878, d.1957); given to Waddesdon, The Rothschild Collection (The National Trust) by the Treasury Solicitor in lieu of taxes on the Estate of Mr James de Rothschild in 1963.
Waddesdon (National Trust)
Accepted by HM Government in lieu of inheritance tax and allocated to the National Trust for display at Waddesdon Manor, 1963



Ellis Waterhouse, Anthony Blunt; Paintings: The James A. de Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor; Fribourg; Office du Livre, The National Trust; 1967; p. 222, cat. no. 97; not illustrated

Indexed terms