Jean-Baptiste Isabey

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Jean-Baptiste Isabey
Oval Portrait of André Grétry, French composer (1741-1813), with a Laurel-Wreathed Harp and Dove below the Oval
Black chalk, stumped, with white opaque watercolor, on wove paper.
15 x 10 9/8 inches (380 x 268 mm)
Purchased on the Mary Flagler Cary Music Fund.

André-Ernest-Modeste Grétry (1741-1813) was an acclaimed French opera composer, born in Liege, who found success after establishing himself in Paris in 1767, having completed his musical education in Rome at the Collège de Liège. Specializing in opéra comique, he was a leader in its evolution from plays with music added into more substantial musical dramas. He wrote more than 50 operas and was known for his melodic grace that complimented the development of the dramatic scenes on stage.
The artist, Jean-Baptiste Isabey, was a painter and printmaker who specialized in portraits and miniatures. He received an early commission from Marie Antoinette and other members of the nobility, went on to create hundreds of portraits of deputies of the Legislative Assembly during the Revolution, and was later patronized by both Napoleon and Josephine and King Louis-Philippe. After 1809, he kept an artist's studio at the Sevres porcelain factory, where he painted on the ceramics, including a breakfast set for Louis XVIII, now in the collection of the Morgan (2009.410:11).


Signed and retraced in black chalk, below oval at right, "J. Isabey"; lettered, probably by the artist, below oval at center, "GRÉTRY".
Watermark: none.

Duc de Marnier; Jacques Seligmann (1858-1923), Paris; from whom purchased by Jesse Isidor Straus (1872-1936) and Irma Nathan Straus (1876-1970) in 1921; the latter's sale, New York, Parke-Bernet Galleries, 21 October 1970, no. 48, repr
Associated names: 

Marnier, Duc de, former owner.
Seligmann, Jacques, 1858-1923, former owner.
Straus, Jesse Isidor former owner.
Straus, Jesse Isidor, Mrs., former owner.


Ryskamp, Charles, ed. Sixteenth Report to the Fellows of the Pierpont Morgan Library, 1969-1971. New York : Pierpont Morgan Library, 1973, p. 115.
Denison, Cara D. French Drawings, 1550-1825. New York : Pierpont Morgan Library, 1984, no. 96.
Denison, Cara D. French Master Drawings in the Pierpont Morgan Library. New York : Pierpont Morgan Library, 1993, no. 98, repr.

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