Studio of Daniel Rabel

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Studio of Daniel Rabel
ca. 1578-1637
Costume for a Man from the Cold Lands of the North
Pen and brown ink, gray wash, and watercolor, with silver, on brown paper, mounted on an album leaf.
11 1/4 x 6 15/16 inches (286 x 176 mm)
Purchased as the gift of Mrs. Christian H. Aall.

The Library's group of eight drawings attributed to Rabel and his workshop come from a larger batch of works by the artist that were on the market in 1986. These sheets, said to be from a dismembered album or albums, emerged from a West German collection and were on the Swiss art market before being acquired by dealers Niall Hobhouse and Wheelock Whitney. Drawings from this cache, which were the subject of a catalogue by Margaret McGowan, are now in the Morgan, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Marion Koogler McNay Museum, and the New York Public Library Dance Collection. In 2020, the Louvre acquired a group of seven designs for Louis XII's court ballets by Rabel and his workshop from a second tranche of drawings.
The provenance of the album and its history before being dismembered in 1986 is unknown. While it was rumored to have been in the collection of Hippolyte Destailleur (1822-1893), there is no evidence to confirm his ownership. Macgowan noted that the contents of the album were reorganized several times and the circumstances of its original assembly are unknown, although the album pages seem to date from the 1580s based on watermark evidence.
This design is for a dancer in the "Ballet Royal du Grand bal de la Douairière de Billebahaut", first performed at the Louvre in February 1626. The airs were composed by Antoine Boesset, Paul Auget, and Francois Richard, with a libretto by Rene Bordier and various poets. The ballet featured dances by costumed performers representing cultures in America, South America, Western Asia and the Middle East, and northern Europe and Scandinavia. This costume relates to the portion devoted to the cold lands of the North. A depiction of the scene in the Louvre (32636) contains four dancers, in matching costumes with birds on their heads and shoulders, surrounding a central figure holding a flaming brazier and with flames rising from his hat.
McGowan read the inscription as a signature by the costume designer Henri Gissey (1621-1673). If that is correct, his comment must refer to a descendant of Daniel Rabel's since Gissey would only have been sixteen at the time Rabel died, in 1637.


Inscribed at lower edge in pen and brown ink, "faut conferer avec Mr Rabel pour l'habit / de ce personnage" and signed, "Gissey" [?]; numbered at upper center in graphite, "213"; at upper right on album leaf, "221"; on verso, "0160".
Watermark: Shield with two "X"s inside, with fragments of watermark on lining visible. Two overlapping images make this partially legible.

From an album of 188 drawings by Rabel and his workshop; private collection, West Germany, by 1985; Swiss art market; Hobhouse, Ltd., London, in association with Wheelock Whitney & Co., New York, 1986.
Associated names: 

Destailleur, Hippolyte Alexandre Gabriel Walter, 1822-1893, former owner.
Aall, Christian H., Mrs., donor.


McGowan, Margaret. The Court Ballet of Louis XIII: A Collection of Working Designs for Costumes 1615-33, 1986, no. 71.
Ryskamp, Charles, ed. Twenty-First Report to the Fellows of the Pierpont Morgan Library, 1984-1986. New York : Pierpont Morgan Library, 1989, p. 371.

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