Pierre Gaudreau
French, 1694-1731

SN 671, oil on canvas

No entry was found in the Dictionary of Art for this artist.

Two young people, obviously enamored of each other are enjoying a tête-a-tête. The painting presents the sitters waist-length.

We see the subjects in a close-up portrait against a dark
background lightened only by a suggestion of blue cloud
midway down. In true Rococo style, the lady is painted
in light, airy colors. She is fashionably dressed, and
wears a stylish straw hat trimmed with flowers and shell.
Her right arm is draped over her lover’s shoulder, while
he grasps her hand.

Prominently displayed on the cloth of his sleeve is a large shell. Ever since the Middle Ages the cockle shell and staff have symbolized the pilgrims who traveled to the Holy Shrine of St James in Compostela, Spain.

In the 18th c, these symbols were sometimes applied to earthly pleasures. In this painting, the tender attitude shown by the “pilgrims” suggests a journey to the shrine of love – the mythical island of Cythera, which was sacred to Venus.

The painting was a Museum purchase in 1952 A. Everett Austin, Director