This landscape tells a story. Derived in part from The Decameron, subject of one of Pasolini‘s slightly dodgy medieval films, the hermit is Frere Luce, revered (incorrectly) for his holiness. One of his few neighbours is a widow with a beautiful daughter. The hermit behaves badly by advising the widow, through a subterfuge, that the daughter must become his ‘companion’ by divine decree, in order to give birth to a great pope of the future. All goes according to the nefarious plan, until the baby is born – a girl.
That story aside, I love this painting for the detail – such as the tiny belfry on the hermit’s hut – and the generally magical air. So many of Boucher’s works were effectively portraiture, but his landscapes are all terrific.