Interrupted Supper

Louis-Léopold Boilly (French, 1761-1845)
late 18th century
Oil on canvas (one of a pair) 
15 x 18 in. (38.1 x 45.7 cm) 
Credit Line:
Norton Simon Art Foundation, Gift of Mr. Norton Simon 
Accession Number:
© 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.


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.

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