French Country Scene
This 18th-century panel painting depicts a young woman at a well. The figure wears a brown hat, along with a blue top and a red skirt. Her eyes are directed off the picture plane – perhaps someone in the distance is approaching her. The woman holds a large jug in her right hand and has rolled up her left sleeve partway. These details call attention to her manual labor. A tall tree stands next to her, while a few animals and a farmhouse are noticeable in the background. A carefully balanced composition, this panel is characterized by its soft diffusion of light. Likely produced by a French artist, this painting recalls some of Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin’s (1699–1779) artworks. Chardin made a living depicting genre scenes – a form of representation that was particularly popular in France throughout the 18th century. Portrayals of domestic servants and maternal figures dating from the 18th century abound in art collections today. Although humble scenes such as this one deal with simple, everyday activities, they function as a source of visual record with respect to a level of French society that had not previously been considered a worthy subject for painting. Tranquil and charming, this panel provides viewers with a slice of life of 18th-century rural France. The work is housed in a pleasant frame that overall is in good condition.
At this time in France, the Treaty of Versailles was signed on May 15, 1768 between France and the Republic of Genoa. In order to pay its debts to France, Genoa was forced to cede the island of Corsica to the larger country. The island was considered a personal possession of the king until the French Revolution, and remains part of France to this day.