Gilles Paul Cauvet

Download image: 
Gilles Paul Cauvet
Cupid Gardeners (Les amours jardiniers)
ca. 1771-1774
Red chalk on paper.
18 5/8 x 6 5/8 inches (477 x 170 mm)
Purchased on the Sunny Crawford von Bülow Fund 1978.

Cauvet was one of the principal designers of eighteenth-century architectural decoration inspired by the elegant paintings and objects recently discovered at Pompeii and Herculaneum. His style paid homage to the classical themes and symmetrical compositions of antiquity. Cauvet became director of the Acadé́mie de Saint-Luc in 1766 and was named sculptor to Monsieur (the king's brother and a count of Cauvet's native Provence) in 1774.
The present sheet is related to Cauvet's self-published pattern book of ornamental prints, the "Recueil d'ornemans á́ l'usage des jeunes artistes qui se destinent á́ la dé́coration des bâtiments" (Collection of Ornamental Motifs for the Use of Young Artists Intending To Become Decorators of Buildings), 1777. According to Mary Meyers, Cauvet began making drawings for the series as early as 1771, with the first prints being produced by 1774 (Meyers, 1984-85, 215-17) [1]. This design was engraved by Jacques le Roy (1739-ca.1789) for the "Recueil."
Cauvet's "Cupid Gardeners" retains the format of the rococo arabesque that was popularized much earlier by Antoine Watteau, though in a more symmetrical and orderly composition. At center, a trio of putti balances a basket of flowers atop a globe. The hunting horn and quiver above and the harvesting implements (rake, shovel, flail, and scythe) and grapes below suggest that the design may be for a panel representing autumn in a series of four seasons. Cauvet's elegant design reveals the new taste for low-relief decorative elements in stucco or wood in place of the previous fashion for painted interior decoration.
[1] Mary Meyers in Regency to Empire: French Printmaking 1715-1814, catalogue by Victor Carlson et al. Baltimore Museum of Art, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, and Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 1984-85.

Martine Marie Pol, Comtesse de Béhague (1870-1939); acquired from Didier Aaron, Inc., New York.
Associated names: 

Béhague, Martine Marie Pol, comtesse de, 1870-1939, former owner.

Artist page: