Pastoral Conversation under the Sculpture of a River God

(Scène champêtre)

Pater, Jean-Baptiste (b.1695, d.1736)
previously attributed to Jean-Baptiste Pater (b.1695, d.1736)
c 1740s
dated as an early copy
Place of production:
Paris, France
oil on canvas
Type of object:
Accession number:


Elegant ladies conversing in an Italianate landscape were a staple subject for Jean-Baptiste Pater. The artist of this work, a follower of Pater, has emphasised the pleasure of looking at the women's beauty and clothes. Some of the men's clothes are fancy dress, in the style of Henry IV or in the Spanish style (à l'espagnole).

Pater trained with Antoine Watteau who had perfected the depiction of polite conversation, an art that revealed social rank as well as providing a pleasurable pastime. This composition concentrates less on the psychological states of the subjects and more on their beauty and clothes, such as the costly silks worn by the ladies on the right. A boy gazes at the women from behind the ridge to the left. The family groups counteract any suggestion of impropriety and lend the composition an air of pastoral harmony.

There is no known painting by Pater which matches this composition, however it may be after a lost work. The distinctive river god is a rare feature: such fountains are usually staffed by nymphs or putti. However, Pater did use a similar river god in several paintings of bathers, one of which is 'Bathing Party in the Park' in the Wallace Collection (P426).

There was a high demand for small-scale paintings like this which continued after the deaths of Watteau, Nicolas Lancret and Pater. With these masters dead, other painters made copies and versions of their work to satisfy patrons’ demands.

Phillippa Plock, 2011

Physical description

Dimensions (mm):
285 x 305
274 x 293 - sight
Signature & date:
not signed or dated


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); bequeathed to Waddesdon The Rothschild Collection (The National Trust) in 1957.
Waddesdon (National Trust)
Bequest of James de Rothschild, 1957



Anita Brookner, French Pictures at Waddesdon, The Burlington Magazine, 101, 1959, 271-273; p. 273; as 'a borderline case'
Ellis Waterhouse, Anthony Blunt; Paintings: The James A. de Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor; Fribourg; Office du Livre, The National Trust; 1967; p. 276, no. 129; as by Pater, but possibly a copy

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