Noël Le Mire
Noël Le Mire after Jean-Michel Moreau, called Moreau le Jeune (1741–1814)
[Le premier baiser de l'amour.]
Engraving and etching, part of a suite of plates made for Collection complète des oeuvres de J. J. Rousseau.
Brussels: Jean-Louis de Boubers, 1774–83.
Bequest of Gordon N. Ray, 1987
Julie, accompanied by her cousin, grants a first kiss to her lover in a bosquet, or bower. This memorable scene was a favorite of the novel's illustrators, beginning with Hubert François Gravelot, who received detailed instructions from Rousseau on how to achieve just the right combination of innocence and sensuality. And yet his composition seems staid in comparison to this version by Moreau le Jeune, who admired Rousseau's works and had studied them closely. Moreau understood what kind of bower the author had in mind, not the neatly trimmed trellis imagined by Gravelot but rather this grand arch overgrown by trees, shrubbery, and flowers.