About this artwork

The seemingly innocent romantic gesture of a young man leaving flowers for a sleeping woman thinly veils this painting’s true theme of lust and sexual attraction. His longing gaze signals his desire for her. The woman, like the garden in which she sleeps, is associated with fruitfulness, fertility and procreation. The giant urn above her and vegetables beneath her symbolise her capacity to carry and to nourish any potential children. This painting was exhibited at the 1765 Paris Salon where it was condemned by the French art critic Diderot. Along with the National Gallery of Scotland’s other two pastorals, this picture was in the collection of the Marchal de Saincy family. Originally, the paintings were not all the same size, but were subsequently cut to equal dimensions.

Updated before 2020

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François Boucher

François Boucher