La Laitière et le Pot au Lait / The Dairymaid and the Pot of Milk

oil on canvas
100 x 81 cm
signed and dated 'W Aractingii 89' (lower left)


The Artist's Estate

Condition Report
There are no obvious condition concerns. For a full condition report please email

Beirut, Lebanon

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About this artwork

La Laitière et le Pot au Lait

Perrette sur sa tête ayant un Pot au lait
Bien posé sur un coussinet,
Prétendait arriver sans encombre à la ville.
Légère et court vêtue elle allait à grands pas;
Ayant mis ce jour-là, pour être plus agile,
Cotillon simple, et souliers plats.
Notre laitière ainsi troussée
Comptait déjà dans sa pensée
Tout le prix de son lait, en employait l'argent,
Achetait un cent d'oeufs, faisait triple couvée;
La chose allait à bien par son soin diligent.
Il m'est, disait-elle, facile,
D'élever des poulets autour de ma maison:
Le Renard sera bien habile,
S'il ne m'en laisse assez pour avoir un cochon.
Le porc à s'engraisser coûtera peu de son;
Il était quand je l'eus de grosseur raisonnable:
J'aurai le revendant de l'argent bel et bon.
Et qui m'empêchera de mettre en notre étable,
Vu le prix dont il est, une vache et son veau,
Que je verrai sauter au milieu du troupeau?
Perrette là-dessus saute aussi, transportée.
Le lait tombe; adieu veau, vache, cochon, couvée;
La dame de ces biens, quittant d'un oeil marri
Sa fortune ainsi répandue,
Va s'excuser à son mari
En grand danger d'être battue.
Le récit en farce en fut fait;
On l'appela le Pot au lait.
_*Quel esprit ne bat la campagne?
_Qui ne fait châteaux en Espagne?
_Picrochole, Pyrrhus, la Laitière, enfin tous,
_Autant les sages que les fous?
_Chacun songe en veillant, il n'est rien de plus doux:
_Une flatteuse erreur emporte alors nos âmes
_Tout le bien du monde est à nous,
_Tous les honneurs, toutes les femmes.
_Quand je suis seul, je fais au plus brave un défi;
_Je m'écarte, je vais détrôner le Sophi;
_On m'élit roi, mon peuple m'aime
_Les diadèmes vont sur ma tête pleuvant:
_Quelque accident fait-il que je rentre en moi-même;
_Je suis gros Jean comme devant.

The Dairymaid and the Pot of Milk

The Dairymaid and the Pot of Milk
Perrette, a pot of milk upon her head,
Nicely placed atop a little cushion,
Thought she would reach the town without mishap.
She strode along wearing a short, light kirtle;
To be more nimble, she had that morning put on
A simple petticoat and heel-less shoes.
Thus attired, our dairymaid
Was already reckoning in her head
The money she’d get for her milk and what she’d buy with it.
She’d buy a hundred eggs for hatching out
A triple gain because of her diligent care.
It is easy for me, she said,
To rear chickens around my house:
The fox, however cunning he be,
Will leave me quite enough to buy a pig.
To fatten the pig will cost me little bran;
He was, when I bought him, already quite big;
So selling him, I’ll make a handsome profit.
And who will prevent me from putting in our byre,
Given the price of pigs, a cow and her calf,
And see them frolic at the heart of the herd?
Whereupon Perrette frolics too, in rapture.
The milk spills: farewell calf, cow, pig and chicks.
Their mistress, abandoning with sad gaze
Her ruined fortune,
Goes to apologize to her husband,
In great danger of being beaten.
A farce was made about all this:
It was called the Pot of Milk.
_*Who doesn’t day dream?
_Who doesn’t build castles in the air?
_Picrochole, Pyrrhus, the milkmaid – everyone,
_The wise as well as the insane.
_We all dream late at night, there is nothing sweeter;
_We’re carried away by fond, ill-founded hopes:
_The treasures of the world are ours:
_All the honours, all the women.
_When I’m alone, I dare the utmost
_I stand back, I dethrone the Shah;
_I am crowned king, my people love me;
_Diadems rain down on me.
_Some chance event then brings me to my senses,
_And I’m my lowly self again.

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