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CAT 152 Bosse Sommer BA 195.jpg

CAT 152.  Abraham Bosse. Sommer, from Les Quatre Saisons. Nuremberg: Paulus Fürst, c. 1637-40. Melville Memorial Room, Berkshire Athenaeum.

In the Sommer (Summer) of Bosse-Fürst, two lavishly dressed couples sample the summer air under a portico overlooking a walled garden at the foot of a steep hillside whose leaning trees draw attention to the two tall trees intertwining in the valley. This image has all the ingredients of the kind of fête champêtre that Watteau was to be painting a half-century later. A handsome horse-drawn carriage stands just below the portico to transport the pleasure seekers to some pleasure park under the brilliant slanting sky, where their own propensities for agreeable diversion will be augmented by the servant and valet behind them on the portico, the one carrying a coffret (a little box), the other musical instruments.

The four verses of the French language print, “L’Ėté,” address the pleasurable activities of the lovers as they promenade and bathe under Cupid’s sway; one of the more felicitous rhymes matches “flambeau” with “dans l’eau” (Duplessis, no. 1083). In fewer lines, Fürst’s German text gets right to the point with these opening words: “Last uns Spatziren gehen, in diesen Sommertagen” (Let’s go walking about on these summer days). Its concluding rhyme of “vergiesen” with “geniesen” anchors this concluding couplet: “And even should I shed my blood in love, / I wouldn’t regret it, if only I can enjoy it.”