European Art: 17th-18th Centuries

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Interrupted Supper, late 18th century

Louis-LĂ©opold Boilly

French, 1761-1845
Oil on canvas (one of a pair)
15 x 18 in. (38.1 x 45.7 cm)
Norton Simon Art Foundation, Gift of Mr. Norton Simon
M.1967.23.2.P
© Norton Simon Art Foundation

On view

The mildly erotic subjects of Louis-Léopold Boilly’s paintings are derived from the French painting tradition of sensibilité, in which gestures and facial expressions are employed to convey the sequence of events. This painting shows the gentleman storming into the room and berating the girl for her unfaithfulness. At the same time, he is mocked by the two women, as seen through their gestures.

The confusion of the events is manifest in the toppled furnish-ings, untidy table, growling dog and the lady’s provocatively disheveled dress. The exaggerated prettiness of the women’s faces contrasts with the extreme ugliness of the old man, which verges on caricature. Boilly’s genre scenes were immensely popular, to judge from the numerous engravings made after his paintings. Many of these prints carried risqué narrative captions added
by the engravers.

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