Halt at the Spring

François Boucher (French, 1703–1770)


208.6 x 289.9 cm (82 1/8 x 114 1/8 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Oil on canvas

On View

Ann and William Elfers Gallery (Gallery 245)





Boucher was the most fashionable and influential French artist of the eighteenth century. He painted major decorative ensembles, portraits, landscapes, and mythological scenes, and also designed tapestries, opera sets, porcelains, and book illustrations. Halt at the Spring was originally a smaller religious painting portraying the Rest on the Flight into Egypt, with Mary, Joseph, and the Christ Child at the left. Between 1761 and 1765, the painting was enlarged (the strips of added canvas are visible at the top and sides) and reworked into a picturesque fantasy of peasant life.


Center right, on pedestal of vase: FBoucher / 1765 (F and B joined)


By 1769, Pierre-Jacques-Onésyme Bergeret de Grancourt (b. 1715 - d. 1785), Paris [see note 1]; April 24, 1786, posthumous Bergeret de Grancourt sale, Hôtel de Bergeret, Paris, lot 47, not sold. December 21-22, 1846, anonymous sale, Beurdley, Paris, lot 1. 1846/1848, probably acquired in Paris by Edward Preble Deacon (b. 1813 - d. 1851) and his wife, Sarahann Parker Deacon (b. 1821 - d. 1900), Boston [see note 2]; 1861, to Mrs. Deacon's father, Peter Parker (b. 1785 - d. 1870), Boston [see note 3]; February 1-3, 1871, Deacon House sale, Leonard and Co., Boston (unnumbered catalogue), sold to Franklin for the heirs of Peter Parker; 1871, gift of the heirs of Peter Parker to the MFA. (Accession Date: March 10, 1871)

[1] This painting was exhibited at the Salon of 1761, though the owner at the time is not known. This painting was subsequently reworked and enlarged; Boucher signed and dated it 1765. It was exhibited with its pendant (MFA accession no. 71.3) at the Salon of 1769, when Bergeret de Grancourt was recorded as the owner of both works. See Eric M. Zafran, "French Paintings in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston," vol. 1 (Boston, 1998), cat. nos. 42-43, pp. 107-112.

[2] It is possible that the Deacons purchased the two Boucher paintings at the December 21 auction in Paris. They are known to have made two trips to Paris, in 1846-47 and in 1848, to acquire furnishings for their home. See Zafran (as above, n. 1), p. 112.

[3] Mr. Deacon died in 1851 and his widow and children went abroad in 1861, at which time the ownership of their home, known as Deacon House, passed to her father. See Zafran (as above, n. 2).

Credit Line

Gift of the heirs of Peter Parker