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Spring

Attributed to:
Boucher, François (b.1703, d.1770)
After:
Soldini, Luigi (b.1715, d.Post 1772)
previously attributed to François Boucher (French, b.1703, d.1770)
Date:
1750s
see acc. no. 2864.1 for dating
Place of production:
Paris, France
Medium:
oil on canvas
Type of object:
overdoors
paintings
Accession number:
2864.2

Commentary

Once attributed to François Boucher, this overdoor and its pendant (acc. no. 2864.1) are now thought to be by the little known artist Luigi Dominique Soldini. The pendant is related to a composition by Boucher, but this canvas seems to be more original in design.

Flowers were commonly used to represent spring. The ancient goddess of flowers, Flora, was associated with this season. The female putto in the centre is probably intended to represent the goddess. The flying putto who crowns the central figure may be associated with Flora's lover, Zephyr, god of the wind.

The pendant (acc. no. 2864.1) was based on Boucher's composition of 'Autumn', made in 1745. Boucher made a companion painting of 'Spring' but it is quite different to the Waddesdon canvas and shows three putti playing with a few flowers among ancient ruins. It is likely that the artist of the Waddesdon canvases saw Boucher's canvases of 'Autumn' and 'Spring' and adapted them for his own composition. He extended Boucher's tight triangle of figures to fit the more elongated shape required of an overdoor. At the same time, he emphasised the mythological associations of the seasons to introduce an aspect of learned classicism into these light-hearted compositions.

The two paintings are painted in grisaille, meaning shades of grey. This style of painting imitated stone.

The probable artist, Luigi 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. 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 similar works for their interior decoration.

Phillippa Plock, 2012

Physical description

Dimensions (mm):
724 x 1397 (sight size) (irregular shape)
Signature & date:
not signed or dated

History

Provenance:
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); inherited by his wife Dorothy de Rothschild (b.1895, d.1988); given to Waddesdon The Rothschild Collection (The National Trust) in 1971.
Collection:
Waddesdon (National Trust)
Gift of Dorothy de Rothschild, 1971

Bibliography

Bibliography

Ellis Waterhouse, Anthony Blunt; Paintings: The James A. de Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor; Fribourg; Office du Livre, The National Trust; 1967; pp. 222-223, cat. no. 98, ill.; as 'Four naked Cupids with flowers'

Indexed terms