Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc

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Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc
Graphite and opaque watercolor on paper.
10 3/8 x 6 5/8 inches (264 x 168 mm)
Gift of John M. Thayer.

An architect and restorer who specialized in medieval buildings and who contributed significantly to the mid-century Gothic revival in France, Viollet-le-Duc was also a prolific writer whose published research was an important resource as the country continued to reckon with the losses of the Revolution. Drawing was central to Le Duc's practice, and he used his exceptional skills as a draftsman to convey knowledge in tandem with text in his prolific series of publications.
The present drawing was made in preparation for a plate that appears in volume 2 of the six-volume series "Dictionnaire raisonné du mobilier français de l'Epoque Carlovingienne à la Renaissance", which appeared in 1871. The compendium was published by the Veuve Morel et Cie, Editeur, and printed by Lemercier et Cie in Paris. Le Duc's drawing was translated into a color lithograph by A. Levie (spelled "Levy" in the artist's annotation on the sheet). The Cinquième Partie of the publication is devoted to "jeux, passe-temps" and includes a chronicle of tournaments and jousts, the latter described as singular combat on horseback with a lance. The text explains the function of each element of the jouster's armor, reproducing numerous examples, including some fantastic, decorative ones such as that seen in the present sheet.


Signed and dated at right, "E Viollet Le Duc 1870"; inscribed on mount, "Dictionnaire raisonne du mobilier, Levy / Planche LV / Jouteur XVe siècle / Wo...dez (?)".

Galerie de Bayser, Paris, 1971; Dr. Frederick J. Cummings (1942-1990), New York; sale, Christie's, May 27, 1983, lot 222; John M. Thayer (1944-2004), Wilmington, DE.
Associated names: 

Cummings, Frederick J., former owner.
Thayer, John M. (John MacLane), 1944-2004, former owner.