Louis Boilly

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Louis Boilly
The Enlisted Man (L'Enrôlé Volontaire)
Black chalk, pen and black ink and wash, with opaque white, on gray paper.
15 7/8 x 20 3/8 inches (403 x 515 mm)
Purchased as the gift of Mrs. Charles Wrightsman.

Signed, inscribed, and dated at lower left in pen and black ink, "Boilly invenit l'an deux.ème de la République française".

Sale, Maurice Delestre, Paris, 21 November 1895; Lagrenée, Paris; Galerie Cailleux, Paris.

Harrisse 1898, p. 167, no. 936; Marmottan 1913, p. 52; Mabille de Poncheville 1931, p. 58; Mabille de Poncheville 1959-60, p. 87.
Ryskamp, Charles, ed. Twenty-First Report to the Fellows of the Pierpont Morgan Library, 1984-1986. New York : Pierpont Morgan Library, 1989, p. 320.


Watermark: none visible through lining.


In order to assert his republican sympathies during the Reign of Terror and refute the Committee on Public Health's (Comité du Salut Public) indictment of his choice of 'indecent' subject matter, Boilly hurriedly executed a number of works with political themes in April and May of 1794. In this spontaneous and fluidly depicted genre scene, a young soldier bids farewell to his family. While Boilly showed his work in progress to members of the Republican Society for the Arts (Société Républicaine des Arts), he does not seem to have produced a painting of the subject. The artist's previous work, consisting of moralizing, amorous, and sentimental subjects indebted to Fragonard and Greuze, had earned him the censure and marked the dangerous potential of such subjects during the Revolution.

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Wrightsman, Jayne, donor.

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