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Rococo and Revolution: Eighteenth-Century French Drawings
October 2 through January 3, 2010

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Anne-Louis Girodet-Trioson (1767–1824)
Phaedra Confesses Her Love for Hippolytus to Oenone
Pen and brown ink, brown wash, heightened with white, over graphite
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!
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; 1997.3

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.


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Jean-Baptiste Greuze (1725–1805)
Anacreon in His Old Age Crowned by Love, before 1762
Pen and black ink, touches of brown ink, black wash, heightened with white tempera, over graphite, on brown paper
Signed at lower left in brown ink, Greuze; inscribed by the artist on the mount, Anacreon couronné par l'amour dans la viellesse Greuze.
12 3/8 x 16 1/8 inches (314 x 407 mm)
Bequest of Therese Kuhn Straus in memory of her husband, Herbert N. Straus; 1977.57

While the end of the eighteenth century saw the rise of Neoclassicism, a parallel interest represented amorous and mythological subjects, as in this sheet by Greuze. Love, personified by a putto, alights on the knee of the sixth-century B.C. Greek poet Anacreon and crowns his head with a laurel wreath, as the poet had desired in one of his Odes. Anacreon's poetry celebrated life's pleasures; Greuze's choice of subject indicates the continuation of an alternative to the rigorous moral philosophy and severe style espoused by David and his colleagues.


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Louis Nicolas de Lespinasse (1734–1808)
View of Two Banks of the Seine, Paris
Pen and brown ink and watercolor, heightened with white, over preliminary drawing in graphite; fine ruled border in pen and black ink
12 7/8 x 24 13/16 inches (326 x 630 mm)
Purchased on the Lois and Walter C. Baker Fund; 1994.17

Lespinasse, whose precision and finesse as a topographical draftsman were virtually unmatched in eighteenth-century France, was at the height of his ability when he made this view of Paris overlooking the Pont Notre-Dame with the Pont Marie in the background. The bell tower of the Hôtel de Ville and the towers of the churches Saint-Jean en Grève and Saint-Gervais appear on the left side of the drawing. On the right is the Ile de la Cité with one of the towers of Notre-Dame just visible.


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Charles Joseph Natoire (1700–1777)
The Cascade at the Villa Aldobrandini, Frascati, 1762
Pen and brown and black ink, brown wash, black and red chalk, heightened with white, on light brown paper
Inscribed by the artist in pen and brown ink, at lower left, Belvedere di Fescati; signed and dated at lower right, C. Natoire 1762.
12 x 18 1/2 inches (305 x 469 mm)
Purchased as the gift of the Fellows; 1965.18

As director of the French Academy in Rome, an office he held from between 1751 and 1775, Natoire encouraged the study of landscape draftsmanship among his students by practicing it himself. This drawing is one of a pair to which Natoire referred in a July 1762 letter to the Marquis de Marigny. Natoire indicated that he was sending Marigny two drawings—views of the cascade from opposite sides—which he had made during his visit to Frascati. These drawings may have once been part of the album of more than 106 views of Rome by Natoire sold in 1778, after his death.


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Charles Joseph Natoire (1700–1777)
A View of the Top of the Cascade at the Villa Aldobrandini, Frascati, 1762
Pen and brown ink, brown wash, black and red chalk, heightened with white, on blue paper; partial ruled border in black chalk
Inscribed by the artist in pen and brown ink, at lower center, il didietro de la Cascata; signed and dated at lower right, C. Natoire 1762.
12 1/4 x 19 7/8 inches (311 x 500 mm)
Bequest of Miss Alice Tully; 1996.64

The present sheet shows the head of the cascade on the terrace above the nymphaeum, while the pendant sheet depicts the view taken from the foot of the cascade. A third view of Frascati, made earlier by the artist and dated 1755, was acquired by the Morgan in 1955 (1955.3).


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Jean-Baptiste Oudry (1686–1755)
Meeting at the Carrefour du Puits du Roi, Compiègne forest, or Le Botté du Roi (The Booting of the King), ca. 1733
Pen and point of brush and black ink and gray wash, over black chalk, heightened with white, on blue paper faded to light brown
Signed in pen and black ink, at lower left, J B Oudry.
12 9/16 x 20 9/16 inches (213 x 522 mm)
Purchased on the Edwin H. Herzog Fund with the special assistance of the International Music and Art Foundation; 1995.10

This drawing is an early design for one of the nine panels in the famous tapestry series Les Chasses royales de Louis XV, commissioned in 1733, a project on which Oudry worked for more than ten years. The final cartoon for Rendez-vous au carrefour du Puits du Roi, the first panel in the series, is now in Fontainebleau. There were two sets of tapestries made after Oudry's designs, one for the royal apartments at Compiègne (where they still hang), and one for the duke of Parma (now in the Pitti Palace, Florence).

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Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.