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The Dovecote

François Boucher, French, 1703–1770
Oil on canvas
Made in
France, Europe
Current Location
On View, Gallery 202
18 5/8 x 28 in. (47.3 x 71.1 cm)
framed: 27 1/8 x 36 3/4 in. (68.9 x 93.3 cm)
Credit Line
Museum Purchase
Public Domain
Object Number
Although evocative of the natural world, this painting represents a fantasy of the picturesque. Doves fly in and out of the dovecote while a man and child watch from a rickety bridge. The blue-green color and benign decay of the various structures present a romantic notion of the outdoors, reflecting contemporary ideas about nature. François Boucher was the favorite painter of Louis XV's mistress Madame de Pompadour who, with her friends, enjoyed playing at being shepherdesses and milkmaids in charmingly idealized country settings similar to the one portrayed here.
- 1783
Berthélémy Augustin Blondel d'Azincourt (1719-1794), Paris, France [1]

In sale of the collection of Berthélémy Augustin Blondel d'Azincourt, Hôtel de Louvois, Paris, France, February 10, 1783, lot no. 44

- 1884
Baron L. d'Ivry [2]

In sale of the Baron L. d'Ivry collection, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, France, May 7-9, 1884, lot no. 5

Comte Alexandre de La Borde, Paris, France

by 1932 - 1936
H. Winterfield, Nice, France [3]

1936/12/09 -
Robert Frank, London, England, purchased at the sale of the H. Winterfield collection, Sotheby's, London, December 9, 1936, lot no. 87 [4]

- 1937
Arnold Seligmann, Rey & Co., Inc., New York, NY, USA

1937 -
Saint Louis Art Museum, purchased from Arnold Seligmann, Rey & Co., Inc. [5]

The primary source for this provenance is Ananoff's 1976 catalogue raisonné, cat. no. 513 [Ananoff, Alexandre, and Daniel Wildenstein. "François Boucher." Volume 2. Lausanne: La Bibliothèque des Arts, 1976, pp. 184-185, cat. no. 513]. Exceptions and other supporting documents are noted.

[1] Berthélémy Augustin Blondel d'Azincourt was a wealthy collector with an impressive gallery of art and other curiosities by many of the leading artists of the day, including François Boucher. In d'Azincourt, Boucher found a loyal patron evident by the 500 drawings by the artist that d'Azincourt owned at the time of his death in 1794 ["Azincourt, Barthélémy-Augustin Blondel d'(Dazaincourt)." Grove Art Online, accessed April 14, 2004, ]. It is unknown when this painting was acquired by d'Azincourt, or who purchased the painting at the 1783 auction of his collection ["Catalogue des Tableaux, dessins, marbres, bronzes, terre cuites, pierres gravées, meubles precieux...du Cabinet de M. d'Azincourt." Hôtel de Louvois, Paris, February 10, 1783, lot no. 44]. Since d'Azincourt was a patron of Boucher, perhaps he commissioned the painting from the artist.

[2] The painting was in Paris for the 1884 auction of Baron L. d'Ivry's collection at the Galerie Georges Petit. It is unknown if the painting was purchased during the sale ["Catalogues des Objets d'Art et d'ameublement et des tableaux anciens dependant de la succession de M. Le Baron L. D'Ivry." Galerie George Petit, Paris, May 7-9, 1884, lot no. 5].

[3] H. Winterfield's name is listed as the lender to a 1932 benefit exhibition of Boucher held at the residence of M. Jean Charpentier in Paris [Nolhac, Pierre de. "Exposition: François Boucher (1703-1770)." Paris, 1932, cat. no. 87]. According to Ananoff's 1976 catalogue raisonné, Winterfield resided in Nice, France; the catalogue entry also lists the previous owners as d'Azincourt and the Baron d'Ivry. It is unknown how Winterfield acquired the painting, or how his collection was brought to London for the 1936 auction.

[4] See note [3]. In an annotated copy of the auction catalogue, R. Frank is handwritten in the margin next to the entry. R. Frank is Robert Frank, a London dealer ["Catalogue of Highly Important Paintings and Drawings." Sotheby's, London, December 9, 1936, lot no. 87, annotated copy in SLAM document files; letter from the Getty Provenance Index dated November 24, 1987, SLAM document files].

[5] Bill of sale from Arnold Seligmann, Rey & Co., Inc. dated January 5, 1938 [SLAM document files]. Minutes of the Administrative Board of Control of the City Art Museum, November 4, 1937.
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