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

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Jean-Baptiste-Marie Pierre ( 1714–1789)
Le Misanthrope, Act II, scene IV, ca. 1750–55
Pen and black ink, brush and gray wash, over black chalk, heightened with white gouache, on blue paper
Signed in pen and black ink at lower right, Pierre; inscribed in pen and black ink along lower margin, non morbleu, cest a vous; et vos ris complaisans LE MISANTROPE. tirent deson esprit tous ces trais medisans.
8 3/4 x 11 inches (220 x 280 mm)
Purchased as the gift of Joan Taub Ades and on the Lois and Walter C. Baker Fund; 2006.5

This highly finished drawing illustrates a scene from one of Molière's most famous comedies, Le Misanthrope, a play set in the fashionable milieu of seventeenth-century Paris. Alceste, the title character, is disgusted by the hypocrisy, injustice, and overall corruption of human society. Nonetheless, he is in love with Célimène, a young, flirtatious widow who is a prime example of the insincerity that Alceste despises. The drawing is one of three known drawings by Pierre after Molière's works.


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Pierre-Paul Prud'hon (1858-1823)
Study for a Portrait of Empress Joséphine, 1805
Black chalk, stumped in some areas, heightened with white, on blue paper; ruled in pen and black ink
9 3/4 x 11 7/8 inches (248 x 302 mm)
Bequest of Therese Kuhn Straus in memory of her husband, Herbert N. Straus; 1977.58

This is the definitive compositional sketch for Prud'hon's painting of 1805, now at the Louvre, that depicts Empress Joséphine seated on some rocks in the gardens of Malmaison. In the painting, however, Prud'hon altered the format from horizontal to vertical, giving greater emphasis to the trees already lightly indicated in the drawing. He also eliminated the lyre from the painting (in the drawing it can be seen at the right) and added an elegant red stole. Delacroix commented on the air of grave beauty and nobility, tinged with melancholy, inherent in the work, which he believed to be one of Prud'hon's masterpieces.


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Jacques Rigaud (1681–1754)
Les Dômes
Black chalk, pen and gray ink, gray wash
Inscribed, 44.
8 5/8 x 18 5/8 inches (220 x 473 mm)
Purchased on the Lois and Walter C. Baker Fund; 2007.89

This is a preparatory design for plate 9 in the artist's 1730 volume of prints depicting views of Versailles from the series Recueil choisi des plus belles vues des palais, châteaux, et maisons royales de Paris et des environs (Paris: Basan, ca. 1720.39). The drawing depicts two pavilions added by Jules Hardouin-Mansart in 1677 to a quadrant of the Versailles gardens originally planned by André Le Nôtre. While the pavilions are no longer extant, the decorated balustrade remains. The Morgan received a copy of Rigaud's Recueil as the gift of Paul Mellon in 1979.


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Hubert Robert (1733–1808)
Draftsman in an Italian Church, 1763
Red chalk
Dated in red chalk, at lower left corner, 1763.
12 15/16 x 17 5/8 inches (329 x 448 mm)
Thaw Collection; 1981.74

This sheet shows a young artist sketching Domenichino's fresco Flagellation of St. Andrew in the chapel of St. Andrew adjacent to S. Gregorio al Celio, in Rome. Copying old masters was common practice for French artists in Italy. The depiction of artists sketching was popular with Robert and his contemporaries and reflects the influence of Charles Joseph Natoire, director of the French Academy in Rome.


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Gabriel Jacques de Saint-Aubin (1724–1780)
Momus, 1752
Red and black chalk, with touches of white chalk
13 7/8 x 9 1/2 inches (353 x 242 mm)
Inscribed in scroll, probably by the artist, in black chalk, Recue[il] / de / Déguisem[ents] / du Bal de / Saint Cloud / 1752 / Ds Gl de Saint-Aubin.
Purchased as the gift of the Fellows; 1954.9

The present drawing depicts Momus, the god of madness and a popular comic figure, holding a scroll announcing a recueil of costumes for a masked ball held by Louis-Philippe d'Orléans and his wife Louise-Henriette de Bourbon-Conty at the château Saint-Cloud in 1752. The single-figure composition and use of trois crayons are rare in Saint-Aubin's work; this sheet may be among his last large format drawings before he abandoned work on this scale.


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Gabriel Jacques de Saint-Aubin (1724–1780)
The Lesson of the Chemist Sage at the Hôtel des Monnaies, 1779
Black chalk with some stumping and graphite, point of brush and brown ink, gray wash, some bodycolor
Signed and dated in pen and black ink, at lower margin, par Gabriel St Aubin 1779; in graphite, La leçon de M. Sage a l'hotel de la Monaye.
7 7/8 x 5 1/16 inches (198 x 128 mm)
Purchased on the Sunny Crawford von Bülow Fund 1978; 1991.4

On 11 June 1778, Balthasar Georges Sage (1740–1824) was appointed to the newly created chair of domestic mineralogy and metallurgy at the Hôtel des Monnaies. The hôtel, established at the beginning of the fourteenth century, was ordered demolished in 1768 by Louis XV, who that year commissioned Jacques-Denis Antoine to design a new building, which was completed in 1777. The new hôtel attracted the attention of many artists because of the "harmonie des proportions et la magnificence de l'ensemble." This is one of three known drawings by Saint-Aubin recording Sage's lectures and demonstrations.

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