Pillement was an extremely prolific career. He was trained in Lyon by Daniel Sarrabat and following the tradition of Watteau and Boucher, he was an accomplished Rococo genre painter. He traveled throughout Europe during his lifetime. In 1745 he traveled to Spain and Portugal, where he remained for three years. He spent the period from 1748-1758 in London, where he enjoyed success and established relations with numberous English patrons and printmakers. In 1761 he traveled to Vienna and spent 1766-67 in Poland. In Vienna and Poland, Pillement decorated rooms at various palaces, often with chinoiseries. He traveled to Avignon in 1768, with travels to London and to Spain and Portugal. During this period he executed three works for Marie-Antoinette at the Petit Trianon at Versailles.
The butterfly is a symbol of love and fidelity between husband and wife. One popular folk tale recounts the story of a young male student and a maiden who fell in love but were forbidden to marry. The student pined away and died, and when the maiden was on her way to her arranged wedding, she stopped to cry at his tomb. Suddenly the tomb opened and a butterfly emerged. She too was transformed into a butterfly and they flew away together.
Peach blossoms appear in the Book of Songs (Shijing / Shih-ching éç„S, China’s most ancient poetry anthology, compiled by the fifth century B.C.E. at the latest) in a poem about how young men and women should marry at an appropriate age.
Together, butterflies and peach blossoms make this fan a perfect wedding or engagement gift.
Maribeth Graybill, Senior Curator of Asian Art
Exhibited in "Flora and Fauna in Chinese Art," April 6, 2002 - December 1, 2002.
Signed by the artist: In 1832, I inscribed at Lai-yüan in Ch'ih-yang, Hsiao-t'ing. (Hsi Tao-kuang jen-ch'en (1832), t'i yü Ch'ih-yang chih Lai-yüan Hsiao-t'ing) One artist's seal follows the inscription: Hsiao-t'ing.