The painter chooses to depict the Court of the Castle Fountain in all its splendor visible only from the Carp pond. Pleasure boats occupy the surface of water, and testify to the favorite pastimes of the French nobility in the 17th century, boat rides. In the foreground in front of a richly carved and decorated boat a gentleman invites a noble lady to board. Considering the clothes' style (hats and collars) and some engravings of the same period we're able to date this table circa 1660.
From the architectural point of view we are located in front of the Cour de la Fontaine in front of the wing from the Gallery of Francis I which originally contained the Baths apartment on the ground floor, the gallery with frescoes by Rosso upstairs and the library in the attic. On the left, the wing of the Queen Mothers was built by Primatice for Catherine de Medici around 1565, hence her name. On the right, the wing of the Belle Cheminée is representative of the culmination of the French Renaissance. Designed around 1565-1570 still by Primatice grandiose way, it has the distinction of having two stairs with divergent ramps that magnified the entrance to the apartment of Charles IX. Primatice may have found the idea of the two straight staircases in the great achievements of Bramante in the Vatican or Michelangelo on the Capitol by reversing the direction of the ramps.
The Carp pond next to the palace, with a surface of four hectares, was made during the reign of Henry IV, and was used for boating parties by members of the Court, and as a source of fish for the table and for amusement.
In the 1660s the castle of Fontainebleau is one of the residences of King Louis XIV, shared between Saint Germain and Versailles (under construction). It is also the birthplace in 1661 of Dauphin Louis, son of Louis XIV and Maria Theresa of Austria. It receives frequent visits from ambassadors. Nevertheless the castle is transformed in the last quarter of the 17th century into a residence for autumn pleasures, where the king and his suite will come mainly to engage in the pleasures of the hunt and to attend the performances of operas and tragedies in vogue.
Our painting is presented in its original 17th carved and giltwood frame.
Oil on oak panel, dimensions: h. 17 cm, l. 22.5 cm, with frame h. 25 cm, l. 30 cm
French School circa 1660.
The interest of our work resides not only in its historical testimony of one of the most beautiful castles in France, but also in the contemplation of the life of the nobility during the reign of Louis XIV.
The castle of Fontainebleau is a royal castle built in Renaissance and classical styles. The first traces of a castle in Fontainebleau date back to the 12th century. The last works are done in the nineteenth century. High place of the history of France, the castle of Fontainebleau is one of the residences of the French sovereigns since François Ier, which makes it its favorite home, until Napoleon III. Many kings leave their imprint in the construction and history of the castle, which is thus a witness of the different phases of the history of France since the Middle Ages. Surrounded by a vast park and adjacent to the forest of Fontainebleau, the castle is composed of elements of medieval styles, Renaissance, and classics. It bears witness to the encounter between Italian art and the French tradition expressed both in its architecture and in its interior decorations.