This is a scene of wish-fulfilment - a warm dusk in the marble-vaulted summer-house of an Italian garden. There is music from a rustic band, dancing in fancy-dress, romance, flirtation and chat. Watteau provides a glimpse of Earthly Paradise for the urbane. To the eighteenth -century viewer this scene would have appeared far more informal than it does to us. The outdoor setting, the mix of high and low life, the confusion of dressing up and dressing down; all these would have seemed a daring relaxation of etiquette. After the stuffiness of the Court of Versailles, this scene would have conveyed the idea of liberty. As the masked revellers sing in a similar scene from Mozart's 'Don Giovanni': 'Viva la Libertå.' What makes the mood so vivid is Watteau's ability to suggest atmosphere, as if he is not just painting the figures, tress and columns, but also the light falling on them and the air surrounding them. He also understands the effect of a suggestive use of the paint brush. Much of the detail is sharp and sparklingly precise, but there are areas, particularly in the distance, where the touches become mysterious and open-ended to convey a confusion of leaves, sky and distant hills, seen through the falling waters of the fountain. John Constable thought this painting seemed to have been 'painted in honey: so mellow, so tender, so soft and so delicious'. Possibly painted for François II de Boyer de Bandol, President of the 'Parlement de Provence' (for the involved later provenance, see Washington/Paris/Berlin). Rosenberg proposes a date of 1716-17. There are numerous related drawings, of which one - used for the young servant slightly to the right of centre - is taken from Veronese's 'Christ and the Centurion' in the Prado. The X-ray shows a more ambitious architectural setting, which Watteau replaced with the banded columns (which recall the Luxembourg Palace in Paris) and a more extensive view of the park. The composition was extensively copied (an example by Pater is in the Wallace Collection).