Interrupted Supper
late 18th century
Louis-Léopold Boilly (French, 1761-1845)
Not on View

The mildly erotic scenes of Louis-Léopold Boilly’s paintings are derived from the French painting tradition of sensibilité in which gestures and facial expressions convey a narrative. Their subjects moralize on themes of vice and virtue, ranging from the sweetness of young love to the indecency of promiscuity. These works were popular among collectors for their discreetly risqué humor and impressive technical handling.

Although these paintings appear to represent a pair, they do not depict a sequence of events. Close looking reveals that the interiors of the rooms—and indeed the young ladies themselves—differ between the scenes. The paintings’ similarities likely demonstrate Boilly’s production method, in which the artist rearranged a small cast of stock figures into seemingly endless variations. This reproducible formula must have helped Boilly meet the high demand for his works, judging by the popularity of the engravings made after them.


  • Artist Name: Louis-Léopold Boilly (French, 1761-1845)
  • Title: Interrupted Supper
  • Date: late 18th century
  • Medium: Oil on canvas (one of a pair)
  • Dimensions: 15 x 18 in. (38.1 x 45.7 cm)
  • Credit Line: Norton Simon Art Foundation, Gift of Mr. Norton Simon
  • Accession Number: M.1967.23.2.P
  • Copyright: © Norton Simon Art Foundation

Object Information

4th Marquis of Hertford (1800-1870), purchased 1861/1863, by inheritance to;
Sir Richard Wallace (1818-1890), by inheritance to;
Lady Wallace (d. 1897), by inheritance to;
Sir John Murray-Scott (1843-1912, by inheritance to;
Victoria Sackville-West, Lady Sackville (1864-1936, wife of 3rd Baron S.), sold 1914 to;
[Jacques Seligmann, Paris].
[?]Mrs. George F. Baker.
Mr. and Mrs. Alfred (Lady Wallace) Löwenstein, Brussels and London; by 1930.
[E. Speelman, London; sold 21 December 1949 to];
[Thos. Agnew & Sons, Ltd., London, stock nos. 0190 and 0191, sold 18 July 1951 to];
M. T. (Mrs. Richard) Warde, London (sale, London, Christie’s, 19 March 1965, lot 70, ill., as The Interrupted Supper).
[Arthur Tooth & Sons, London, stock nos. 7752 and 7753, as Le souper interrompu, sold 9 April 1967 to];
Norton Simon Art Foundation.

Exposition Louis Boilly

  • Paris, Musée Carnavalet, 1930-05-31 to 1930-06-22

Summer Exhibition of Fine pictures by Old Masters

  • London, Thomas Agnew & Sons, 1950-06 to 1950-07

[on loan]

  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1970 to 1972

[on loan]

  • Fullerton Library, 1967-12 to

[on loan]

  • Hunt Branch Library, Fullerton, 1969-03-12 to

Reinstallation of Galleries: Art History of the 17th and 18th Century Gains Fresh Dimension

  • Norton Simon Museum, 1993-09-02 to 1995-08-13

Three Centuries of French Art: Selections from The Norton Simon, Inc. Museum of Art and the Norton Simon Foundation_2

  • California Palace of the Legion of Honor, 1974-10-19 to 1976-06-15

All Consuming: Art and the Essence of Food

  • Norton Simon Museum, 2023-04-14 to 2023-08-14

Selections from the Norton Simon, Inc. Museum of Art

  • Princeton University Art Museum, 1972-12-03 to 1974-07-17
  • The Burlington Magazine,
  • Connaissance des arts, p. 119
  • ?Steadman, David W., Art Journal,
  • Portalis, Baron Roger; and Henri Béraldi, Les graveurs du dix-huitième siècle, 1882, p. 299
  • Harrisse, H., Louis Leopold Boilly: peinture, dessinateur et lithographe, 1898, nos. 48, and 554
  • Marmottan, Paul, Le peintre Louis Boilly (1761-1845), 1913, p. 24
  • Seligmann, Jacques et fils, Exposition Louis Boilly, 1930, no. 39
  • Mabille de Poncheville, Boilly, 1931, pp. 22, 171
  • Illustrated London News, 1937, p. 995
  • Thomas Agnew and Sons, Summer Exhibition of the Fine pictures by Old Masters, 1950, no. 5
  • Seligmann, G., Merchants of Art, 1880-1960: Eighty years of professional collecting, 1961, p. 269
  • Wallace Collection catalogues: Pictures and drawings, 1968, p. 11
  • California Palace of the Legion of Honor, Three Centuries of French Art: Selections from The Norton Simon, Inc. Museum of Art and the Norton Simon Foundation, 1976, no. 12
  • Masterpieces from the Norton Simon Museum, 1989, p. 113
  • Ingamells, John, The Wallace Collection, Catalogue of Pictures III, French before 1815, 1989, pp. 10, 383 Appendix III
  • Siegfried, Susan L., The Art of Louis-:Léopold Boilly: Modern Life in Napoleonic France, 1995, figs. 9, 10 p. 7-8
  • Rizzo, Tracey, A Certain Emancipation of Women, 2004, cover
  • Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best, 2010, cat. 265B p. 277
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Additional Artwork by Artist

Interrupted Supper Louis-Léopold Boilly late 18th century

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