Jean-Baptiste Oudry

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Jean-Baptiste Oudry
The English Fox
Back ink and wash, blue wash, lead white opaque watercolor, on varigated blue laid paper.
sheet: 12 3/8 x 10 3/16 inches (308 x 258 mm); design area within painted border: 9 7/8 x 7 7/16 inches (240 x 190 mm)
Purchased on the Fellows Fund.

Watermark: none.
Between 1729 and 1734 Oudry prepared a set of drawings for Jean de la Fontaine's “Fables choisies mises en vers” but the four volume series did not appear until 1755-1759 when it was published in Paris by Desaint et Saillant. The series was originally bound into two albums, probably after being engraved, and consisted of 276 drawings for the 245 fables, including a frontispiece designed by Oudry in 1752 for the printed edition. Although it was probably always Oudry's intention to have the series engraved, it was not until after Montenault bought the drawings in 1751 that the latter began to look for engravers, printers, typesetters, booksellers, and patrons for the publication. Charles-Nicolas Cochin le fils (1715-1790), whom Montenault put in charge of the illustrations, redrew Oudry's original drawings in graphite in a more finished form.
Oudry's drawings for the “Fables” are executed in pen and brush with wash and opaque white on a vivid blue paper, with each vignette surrounded by a drawn frame. This sheet is the preparatory design for “The English Fox” ("Le renard Anglais"; Fable CCXXXVI, no. XXII, Book 12, vol. IV, Desaint et Saillant, 1755-1759). The story praises the cleverness of the English fox who, when hunted by the hounds, hides among the dead owls and foxes strung up on the gallows.


Signed and dated in pen and black ink at lower left, "J. B. Oudry 1733".

From one of two albums belonging to Jean-Louis Regnard de Montenault (publisher of the 1755-1759 edition of the "Fables"), Paris, 1751; the bookseller Jean-Jacques de Bure (1763-1853), Paris (a note glued to the fly leaf of the first album reads: “Nous avons collectionné aujourdhui 18 fevrier 1828 / ces dessins des fables de la fontaine . . . il y / sont tous / de Bure freres”); his sale, Paris, 1-18 December 1853, in lot 344; Count Adolphe-Narcisse Thibaudeau (1795-1856), Paris; Félix Solar (1811-1870), Paris; his sale, Paris, 19 November - 9 December 1860, in lot 627; Baron Isidore Taylor (1789-1879), Paris; booksellers Morgand and Fatout, Paris, ca. 1876; Emile Péreire (1800-1875), Paris; Louis Roederer (1809-1870), Rheims; by descent to his nephew Léon-Olry Roederer; acquired by Dr. A.S.W. Rosenbach (1876-1952), Philadelphia, for the Rosenbach company, 1922; Raphael Esmerian (1903-1976), New York; his sale, Paris, Palais Galliera, 6 June 1973, in lot 46 (the two albums were sold separately; the one containing this sheet was dismembered after the sale); Claus Virch (1927-2012), Paris, and Art Associates Partnership, Bermuda.
Associated names: 

Montenault, Jean Louis Regnard de, former owner.
Bure, Jean Jacques de, former owner.
Thibaudeau, Adolphe-Narcisse, comte, 1795-1856, former owner.
Solar, Félix, 1815-1871, former owner.
Taylor, Isidore-Justin-Séverin, baron, 1789-1879, former owner.
Péreire, Emile, former owner.
Roederer, Louis, former owner.
Roederer, Léon-Olry, former owner.
Esmerian, Raphaël, former owner.


Ryskamp, Charles, ed. Eighteenth Report to the Fellows of the Pierpont Morgan Library, 1975-1977. New York : Pierpont Morgan Library, 1978, p. 280.
Denison, Cara D. French Master Drawings in the Pierpont Morgan Library. New York : Pierpont Morgan Library, 1993, under no. 41.

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