Jean–Baptiste–Joseph Pater (French, 16951736)
Oil on canvas; 42 x 56 in. (106.7 x 142.2 cm)
The Jules Bache Collection, 1949 (49.7.52)
This fair, held annually on the first Sunday in September in a village near Versailles, inspired several artists of the period. The theme was used for a stage play as early as 1695 and also by Favart for a ballet-pantomime in 1735. Pater was a pupil of Watteau, whose works inspired this large composition. A smaller version dated 1733 is at Sans-Souci, Potsdam. The group of commedia dell'arte players at the left in the middle distance, including the white-suited figure of Gilles, reappears in another painting by Pater entitled Procession of Italian Comedians (Frick Collection, New York). In his own day, Pater's reputation was very nearly equal to his teacher's. Frederick the Great owned over forty of his paintings. The Fair at Bezons is frequently cited as Pater's masterpiece.