17th-Century French School, A Celebration Near The Alps

17th-Century French School, A Celebration Near The Alps

A charming 17th-century French school oil painting depicting a celebration within ancient ruins. Could it be a wedding?

In the centre of the composition, our eyes are drawn towards a young couple who are conducting a formal dance. Is this the bride and groom? Are the musicians playing for them? If so, perhaps the figures on the left are the family with the patriarch sitting at the head of the table.

This fascinating old piece is full of intriguing symbolism and it’s interesting to consider what the various elements originally meant. For example, note the timid dog sitting by the table waiting for scraps and the small cat looking up towards the couple. There’s also a bird sitting on a line within the ruins. 

The painting was once larger than it is now as, on the far left, there’s part of the letter R. Presumably, this was once a monogram, word or name.

Medium: Oil on canvas laid on wood
Overall size: 36” x 19½” / 92cm x 50cm
Year of creation: c. 1650
Provenance: France
Condition: Craquelure and darkening.