Are They Thinking about the Grape? (Pensent-ils au raisin?)

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François Boucher
French, 1703–1770

Are They Thinking about the Grape? (Pensent-ils au raisin?), 1747

Oil on canvas
oval, 80.8 x 68.5 cm (31 3/4 x 27")
f. Boucher 1747 (bottom, right of center)
Martha E. Leverone Endowment, 1973.304

Although he painted a broad range of subjects and executed designs for porcelain and tapestries, François Boucher's canvases of pastoral themes represent his most influential contribution to 18th-century French art. These idealized visions of rustic life, indebted to Jean-Antoine Watteau's images of fête galantes, or open-air courtship parties, typically feature shepherds and shepherdesses engaged in amorous pursuits. This work was inspired by a contemporary theater piece, which was first performed as a pantomime at a Parisian fair in 1745. The painting's playfully coy title derives from that of an engraving of a similar image.

— Permanent collection label

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Probably Paris, Salon, 1747, no. 33bis. as deux pastorales, aussi en forme ovale.

Stockholm, Nationalmuseum, La Douce France (Det ljuva Frankrike), 1964, no. 16.

Art Institute of Chicago, François Boucher in North American Collections: 100 Drawings, 1973/1974, not in catalogue.

Art Institute of Chicago, Selected Works of Eighteenth-Century French Art in the Collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, 1976, no. 9.

New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, François Boucher 1703-1770, 1986, no. 53, traveled to Detroit Institute of Arts and Paris, Galeries nationales du Grand Palais.

Ottawa, National Gallery of Canada, The Age of Watteau, Chardin, and Fragonard, Masterpieces of French Genre Painting, 2003/2004, no. 55, traveled to Washington, National Gallery of Art and Berlin, Altes Museum.

Publication History

[Abbé Jean Bernard Le Blanc], Lettre sur l’exposition des ouvrages de peinture, sculpture, etc. , de l’année 1747…, Paris, 1747; reprint Geneva, 1970, pp. 81-82.

“Recent Accessions of American and Canadian Museums,” Art Quarterly 36 (1973), p. 429.

“Art across North America—In the New,” Apollo 99 (1974), p. 474, fig. 8.

“La Chronique des arts,” Gazette des Beaux-Arts 6th ser., 83 (1974), suppl. to no. 1261, p. 128, fig. 411.

John David Farmer, “A New Painting by François Boucher,”Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago 68, 2 (1974), pp. 16-18 ill.

Alexandre Ananoff, “François Boucher et l’Amérique,” L’Oeil, no. 251 (1976), pp. 18, 21.

Alexandre Anaoff with Daniel Wildenstein, François Boucher, Lausanne and Paris, 1976, vol. 1, p. 33, under no. 299, p. 34, under no. 301, vol. 2, p. 3, under no. 309, p. 4-5, no. 310, fig. 888, pl. opp. p. 32.

John Maxon, The Art Institute of Chicago, New York, 1977, pp. 62-63, ill.

Pierrette Jean-Richard, L’Oeuvre gravé de François Boucher dans la collection Edmond de Rothschild, Paris, 1978, pp. 68-69, ill, no. 30.

Regina Shoolman Slatkin, review of Alexandre Anaoff with Daniel Wildenstein, François Boucher in Burlington Magazine 121 (1979), pp. 119-20.

Alexandre Anaoff with Daniel Wildenstein, L’opera completa di Boucher, Classici dell’arte 100, Milan, 1980, p. 111, no. 321, ill., pl. 29.

Denys Sutton in François Boucher (1703-1770), exh. cat., Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, 1982, p. 261.

Pontus Grate in François Boucher, Paintings, Drawings, and Prints from the Nationalmuseum, Stockhold, exh. cat., Manchester, City Art Gallery, 1984, p. 21, under no, P6.

Alan P, Wintermute in The First Painters of the King. French Royal Taste from Louis XIV to the Revolution, exh. cat. Stair Sainty Matthiesen, 1985-86, p. 128, no. 13, ill.

George Brunel, Boucher, New York, 1986, p. 208.

Michel Hilaire, “François Boucher, 1703-1770,” Le petit journal des grandes expositions 164 (1986), n. pag., ill.

Alastair Laing, “Boucher et la pastorale peinte,” Revue de l’Art, no, 73 (1986), pp. 59-60, 63 n. 71, fig. 16.

L’Oeil, no. 374 (1986), cover ill.

Carter Ratcliff, “François Boucher, Absolutist Painter,”Art in America 74 (July, 1986), p. 95 ill.

Pierre Rosenberg and Michel Hilaire, Boucher, 60 chefs d’oeuvres, Fribourg, 1986, p. 6.

Antoinette Faÿ-Hallé, “The Influence of Boucher’s Art on the Production of the Vincennes Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory” in François Boucher 1703-1777, exh. cat., New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1986/1987, pp. 345-50.

Pierre Rosenberg and Marion C. Stewart, French Paintings, 1500-1825: The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, San Francisco, 1987, pp, 127-28, ill.

Guy Stair Sainty in François Boucher: His Circle and Influence, exh. cat., New York, Stair Sainty Matthiesen, 1987, p. 117.

Henry Bonnier, François Boucher dessins, Paris, 1988, p. 42.

Art Institute of Chicago, Master Paintings, Chicago, 1988, p. 41, ill.

John Ingamells, The Wallace Collection. Catalogue of Pictures, pt. 3, French before 1815, London, 1989, pp. 33 under P399, p. 61 under P482.

Christopher Wright, The World’s Master Paintings from the Early Renaissance to the Present Day: A Comprehensive Listing of Works by 1,300 Painers and a Complete Guide to Their Locations Worldwide, New York, 1991, vol. 1, p. 433, vol. 2, pp. 61, 584.

Susan Wise in Susan Wise and Malcolm Warner, French and British Paintings from 1600 to 1800 in the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, 1996, pp. 12-17, ill.

Melissa Hyde, “Confounding Conventions: Gender Ambiguity and François Boucher’s Painted Pastorals,” Eighteenth-Century Studies 30 (1996), pp. 35-36, 41, 54 n. 48, 57 n. 67.

Ownership History

With the pendant Flageolet Player, probably Jean Baptiste Machault d’Arnouville (died 1794), contrôleur général des finances; by descent to Melchior, marquis de Vogüe, one of whose descendants married comte René de Rohan Chabot [proposed by Alistair Laing in connection with the history of the pendant, in a letter to Susan Wise, August 13, 1986 in curatorial file]. Comte René de Rohan Chabot, Paris; sold to Wildenstein, 1959 [telephone conversation of Ay-Wang Hsia with Susan Wise, May 4, 1982]; sold to the Art Institute, 1973.