Signed and dated, at lower right in pen and black ink, "J B. Oudry / 1731".
Ryskamp, Charles, ed. Twenty-First Report to the Fellows of the Pierpont Morgan Library, 1984-1986. New York : Pierpont Morgan Library, 1989, p. 365-366.
Denison, Cara D. French Master Drawings in the Pierpont Morgan Library. New York : Pierpont Morgan Library, 1993, under no. 41.
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 is a preparatory design for “The Man who Runs after Fortune, and the Man who Waits for Her in His Bed” ("L'Homme qui court après la Fortune, et l'homme qui l'attend dans son lit"; Fable CXXXVI, no. XII, Book 7, Desaint et Saillant, 1755-1759). La Fontaine muses on those who ambitiously pursue success and others to whom success comes with little exertion.
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, former owner.
La Fontaine, Jean de, 1621-1695. Fables.