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Furnishing fabric - The Art of Loving or The Pleasant Lesson
  • The Art of Loving or The Pleasant Lesson
    Favre Petitpierre et Cie
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The Art of Loving or The Pleasant Lesson

  • Object:

    Furnishing fabric

  • Place of origin:

    Nantes (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1785-1790 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Favre Petitpierre et Cie (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Copper plate-printed cotton

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mr Ronald Baker

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The Art of Loving or The Pleasant Lesson is typical of many scenes printed on cotton textiles in the late 18th and early 19th century in various centres of cotton printing across northern Europe, including by Petitpierre et cie. in Nantes. The most famous cotton-printing factory was propitiously located at Jouy-en-Josas, half way between Paris and Versailles, the main residences of the French court - and the most desired market for these expensive furnishings textiles.

The designs were often based on engravings by well-known artists, and were sometimes updated to suit the period in which they were adapted for printing on cotton. Here, three of the scenes come from paintings by the French court artist François Boucher (1703-70) - The Pleasant Lesson (1748) and The Lovers Surprised (1748), both engraved by René Gaillard in 1758, and a now lost painting. A second source is an engraving by Louis-Léopold Boilly (1761-1845)). The dress of the shepherd and shepherdess on the right are in tune with Boucher's era, while the fashionable women beside the vase and the sculpture of Cupid, wear the fashions of the last decade of the 18th century.

Physical description

Furnishing fabric of copper plate-printed cotton in red (probably madder) on a white ground with a design composed of various scenes which relate to the manufacturer's name 'L'Art d'Aimer', 'The Art of Loving' or 'The Pleasant Lesson', and is punctuated by architectural ruins and ships sailing past farmsteads.

There are three main scenes: a shepherd boy teaching a shepherdess to play the flute while two cupids play with a horn among the flowers; a young man hides behind a large urn filled with grass and flowers and watches two young women who are looking at a statue of Cupid with an open book inscribed 'L'ART D'AIMER'; the third scene has a reaper discovering a man, a woman with a horn and pipe, and a dog lying in the corn. Smaller scenes show cupids fishing, Cupid with a dart arousing a lady who is writing, and a small boy playing the bagpipes to a dog with geese and sheep about him.

Place of Origin

Nantes (made)


ca. 1785-1790 (made)


Favre Petitpierre et Cie (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Copper plate-printed cotton


Length: 116.5 cm, Width: 93 cm, Length: 98 cm repeat

Descriptive line

Furnishing fabric 'The Art of Loving' or 'The Pleasant Lesson' of copper plate-printed cotton, possibly made by Favre Petitpierre et Cie, Nantes, France, ca. 1785-1790

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Sarah Grant, Toiles de Jouy. French Printed Cottons, V&A Publishing, 2010, pp. 54-55, Catalogue 18.


Cotton (textile)



Subjects depicted

Men; Trees; Dogs; Women; Animals; Sheep; Landscape; Architecture; Flowers; Seascape


Textiles; Interiors


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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