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After losing his post as painter to Frederick Prince of Wales in 1736, Mercier painted fewer portraits and turned to producing large decorative pictures such as this. Called 'fancies', they depicted musical assemblies, sets of figures emblematic of the senses or the seasons, or sentimental domestic scenes. Mercier's French training brought lightness and elegance to such subjects and prints made after them sold well, bringing the painter a good income. It is not known if this picture was part of a larger set, but its size and low view point suggest that it was meant to hang high, perhaps as an overdoor.

August 2004