Highlights

Nicolas Lancret (1690-1743), Children Playing in the Open

Nicolas Lancret (1690-1743), Children Playing in the Open. 27x32,5 cm. kms3893
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The beginning of the 18th century saw the introduction of a new genre within French painting, fêtes galantes or ”elegant parties”, which feigned to depict the aristocracy and their ritualised social gatherings, pastimes, and courting. Several later painters adopted elements from the genre but combined it with more rustic settings and characters, thereby creating more everyday-like scenes.

A depiction of children playing
At first glance, Lancret’s depiction of children playing looks like an everyday scene, but it also holds allusions to the codified diversions of the upper classes. The children are well-dressed, and the fragment of architecture to the right suggests that they are frolicking in one of those parks that were often the settings of the aforementioned elegant parties. The picture also contains traces of the subtle erotic allusions typical of the genre in the game played by the four girls with the adolescent boy in their midst.

The girls playing, the boy trying to conquer
The objective of the game is for the person in the middle to conquer a place from one of the four opponents in the four corners. Here, the boy’s attempts at making his first conquest are frustrated by the girls’ teasing gestures and secret signs. The younger children in the background are still too young to play the game and are having the rules explained to them by a slightly older boy.


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Updated: 8.apr.2014
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