The village of Charenton, at the meeting of the Seine and Marne rivers, was a favorite location in the 18th century for excursions of aristocratic men and women seeking to escape Paris for “simpler” environs. The building in this painting would have been recognizable as one of the many picturesque mills in the Charenton area. However, it features details that are the fanciful invention of the artist, François Boucher—mills did not typically feature expensive glass windows and decorative swags of greenery.

The painting is filled with a sense of the fruitfulness of the earth: trees covered with foliage, the rushing stream banked with bushes, and a multitude of white doves flying around the mill. Sparkling white highlights enliven the lush summer scene. The inhabitants of this idyllic world are perhaps as fanciful as the mill itself—they are immaculately dressed for working peasants.


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