Phaedra Confesses Her Love for Hippolytus to Oenone
Signed with monogram at lower left, AL G INV, and signed again, in graphite, at lower left, GIRODET INV; inscribed at lower center, PHEDRE / Tu connais ce fils de l'amazone / Ce prince si longtems par moi meme opprimé / OENONE / Hippolyte! Grands Dieux!
Pen and brown ink, brown wash, heightened with white, over graphite
Sheet: 13 5/16 x 9 3/16 inches (339 x 233 mm)
Purchased on the Edwin H. Herzog Fund, the Gordon Ray Fund, and as the gift of Mrs. John Hay Whitney
This drawing is one of ten highly finished preparatory drawings that Girodet made for Pierre Didot's deluxe, three-volume edition of Jean Baptiste Racine's Oeuvres (Paris, 1801). The artist designed five compositions for Phèdre and another five for Andromaque. The present sheet illustrates act 1, scene 3 of the tragedy Phèdre, in which Phaedra, wife of Theseus, tells her nurse and confidante, Oenone, of her love for Hippolytus, Theseus's son from an earlier marriage. The Didot Racine, which was dedicated to Napoleon, has been described as the epitome in book illustration of Davidian Neoclassicism.