Charles-Amédée-Philippe van Loo - Fête Galante
Charles-Amédée-Philippe van Loo
Oil on canvas (relined). 94.5 x 126 cm.
Antoine Watteau developed the “fête galante” genre in the early 18th century: A poetic, idealized depiction of several figures, especially courting couples, outdoors, usually in a park landscape, accompanied by music and dancing. These paintings, which find some parallels in the works of Giorgione and Rubens, transport the viewer to an idyllic, dreamlike world far from the triviality of everyday life. Watteau's famous image “The Embarkation for Cythera” represents the highlight of this genre. The artist created a style that was popular throughout the entire 18th century, not just in France but in the whole of Europe, and which found continuation in the works of Nicolas Lancret and Jean-Baptiste Pater. King Frederick II of Prussia was a great collector of “fête galante” scenes, which he presumably valued for their relaxed atmosphere of spirited conversation and companionship.
The present representation of such a “fête galante” depicts a group of courtly figures dancing, talking, and making music at the bank of a river. Helmut Börsch-Supan has attributed the work to the French painter Charles-Amédée-Philippe van Loo. Van Loo was a member of an extensive family of artists and worked at the court of Frederick II as of 1748, painting ceiling murals, tapestry designs, and portraits for the Prussian king. He painted two “fête galante” scenes similar to the present work for the Konfidenztafelzimmer of the Potsdam Palace, which was destroyed in 1945. Börsch-Supan especially compares details of the landscape, the similar treatment of the branches and leaves, and the lively, detailed drapery of the figures' clothing. Some motifs are also reminiscent of Antoine Watteau and Nicolas Lancret, two artists who Frederick II collected and greatly admired.
Prof. Dr. Helmut Börsch-Supan, Berlin, 30.6.2018.