The Little People

When by the early 1880’s Richard Mique had finally finished the Queen’s Farm, Marie-Antoinette had an impression that something was missing: it did not take long for the Queen’s architect to realize that the missing element in this live landscape, meticulously recreated from his drawings, happened to be the human figure. Traditionally in a painting of this genre, where the splashes of color can represent just about anything, a human figure anchors the eye of the spectator, by firmly re-establishing the scale. I guess Marie-Antoinette could recognize before her yet another theater decoration; whereas, what she really wanted was a window into reality. Mique of course was renowned for his flexibility: A certain Vali Boussard, a peasant from Tourain, was invited to inhabit the landscape. At first Monsieur Boussard had difficulty figuring out what was required of him; but since his tasks seemed familiar enough, such as ploughing the field, planting wheat, grapes and peas, raising chicken and milking goats, he and his family quickly learned to fit in.

See also Desert de Retz.

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