Jacques Charlier (1706-90)
The present work is a rare example of a signed scene by him and may be an original composition.
The present work is typical of the erotic scenes for which Charlier was so well-known. It probably dates to after his first royal commissions in 1748, after which, in 1753, he was styled peintre en miniature du Roi (painter and miniaturist to the King). He is documented as working from the 1740s, although there is a dearth of extant work from this period. Born in Champagne, his background was extremely humble. His talent as a miniaturist mirrored the work of the fashionable oil painter François Boucher (1703-70), with whom he may have trained.
Many of Charlier’s miniatures, including the present work, were intended to be set into gold boxes. His patrons, including Madame de Pompadour, were willing to pay large sums for his delicate scenes. He produced these in some quantity for the wealthy aristocrats of Paris, including the Duc de Caylus, who owned over 90 Charliers in all, and the Prince de Conti, for whom in 1772 he painted 12 large miniatures at 1,200 livres each.
Although many artists of the time attempted to capture Boucher’s decorative and idyllic paintings, few succeeded as well as Charlier, who transferred his style so successfully into miniature. The present work is a rare example of a signed scene by him and may be an original composition.
Charlier’s productive brush seems to have slowed by the late 1770s, and in 1778 he offered ninety of his miniatures for sale. In March the following year he unsuccessfully offered ninety of his works at auction, possibly finding that his style, like Boucher’s, had fallen from fashion. He died in Paris on 19 February 1790.
His work is represented in many collections around the world, the largest group of miniatures being owned by the Wallace Collection in London.
 If Charlier was indeed a pupil of Boucher’s he may have been introduced to Madame de Pompadour by the artist, for whom she was a great patron.
 Leo Schidlof in his dictionary The Miniature in Europe (Graz, 1964) states that Caylus in fact owned over one hundred works by Charlier.