Jean Le Pautre

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Jean Le Pautre
Studies for Decorative Friezes
ca. 1670
Red chalk and gray wash on paper.
12 7/16 x 8 9/16 inches (316 x 218 mm)
Purchased as the gift of Mrs. Charles Wrightsman.

According to Mariette, Le Pautre only made a few drawings, although there are over 2300 prints by the artist in the Bibliotheque nationale de France. This sheet contains four separate studies for motifs that occur in at least three of Le Pautre's prints. That Le Pautre developed a range of different motifs on a single sheet, and that the individual elements would be included in different print series, underscores his unconventional working method as a draftsman.
The two putti blowing trumpets surrounded by military trophies at top are found in the first plate of a series of six designs for friezes, published by Jacques van Merle in 1671 (see Inventaire, tome 12, no. 1615). The motif with a sphinx and putto at left recurs as a decorative element in one of a suite of six vertical panels, first published by Jean Cany in 1699. The group appears as part of an ornate surround for an octagonal frame containing a landscape (see Inventaire, tome 12, no.1703). The female half-figure at lower right, embedded in an elaborate frame adorned with acanthus leaves, appears on folio 183 of the first volume of Le Pautre's Oeuvres. The print is inscribed "Recherche de plusieurs beaux morceaux d'ornemens . . . inventez et gravez par I le Pautre," and may have been intended as a title page (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; acc. no. 33.84).


Inscribed on verso, "Ch. Lebrun fait".
Watermark: Crown over fleur-de-lis.

Jacques Petit-Horry (1929-1992), Paris.
Associated names: 

Petit-Horry, Jacques, former owner.
Wrightsman, Jayne, donor.


Ryskamp, Charles, ed. Twenty-First Report to the Fellows of the Pierpont Morgan Library, 1984-1986. New York : Pierpont Morgan Library, 1989, p. 358.

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