|La Servante justifiée, 1735-1740|
A little rococo morality tale ((in other words, not very moral) is attached to this painting: According to La Fontaine's popular tale, the master seduced a serving girl and was observed by a neighbor, who is shown here at her window at the upper right. He therefore invited his wife into the garden to engage in dalliance. Later, when the neighbor reported on his behavior, his wife observed that it was she whom her friend observed in the garden. "[Then] excuse me, and do not send [the girl] away," responded the neighbor, to which the wife replied, "Why send her away? She serves me well."
|Two Elegant Women in Polish Dress, ca. 1723|
This was the era of Rococo art, where lighter colors, playful themes, and playfulness represented the excesses of the reign of Louis XV. Lancret's ability in depicting the fetes and party atmosphere made him very popular. While not his paintings were not as explicit as those of Boucher, his light palate and paintings of the elite at play in mythological landscapes were a departure from the Baroque's church/state orientation. Landscapes were pastoral and often depicted the leisurely outings of aristocratic couples.
Although traditionally regarded as a follower of Antoine Watteau, Lancret was a prolific and inventive genre painter in his own right. He studied with Watteau’s master Claude Gillot and probably met Watteau in 1712. Lancret was received into the Royal Academy in 1719 as a painter of fêtes galantes. Much admired as a decorative painter, Lancret executed numerous commissions for the great patrons of the day, including Louis XV and Frederick II. Although based in Watteau’s style, Lancret’s work is characterized by a more vivid palette, more varied genre themes, and a detailed and lively narrative sense.