Picart trained as an engraver with his father Etienne Picart, and with Benoit Audran and Sébastein Leclerc, and took drawing lessons at the Académie Royale de Peinture et Sculpture. He began traveling outside of France, largely in the Netherlands, beginning in 1696. After the death of his wife in 1708, Picart left France for the Netherlands, and settled permanently in Amsterdam in 1711. It was there that he became one of the most prolific engravers and book illustrators of the early eighteenth century, producing designs and prints for works such as the nine-volume "Céremonies et coutumes religieuses de tous les peoples du monde". This independent, highly finished drawing in gouache on vellum represents an "Allegory of Peace", and is one of three designs for title pages to Don Luis d'Acuña three manuscripts on the War of the Spanish Succession and the peace concluded at Utrecht. The manuscripts, presented to the king of Portugal by D'Acuña, the Portuguese ambassador to the Netherlands, included three additional drawings for the manuscripts representing contemporary historical events related to the treaty of Utrecht. Picart must have regarded this sheet as one of his most important and original works, since the commission and complex iconography are discussed at length in the biography published by his widow the year after his death. Picart's masterful "Allegory of Peace" greatly enhances the Library's holdings of drawings by the artist, which are limited to several academic nude studies and a study after an antique gem, and complements the substantial body of printed material in the collection that represents Picart's principal activity.
Allegory of Peace
Pen and black ink and wash over graphite on vellum.
14 3/8 x 9 3/4 inches (365 x 246 mm)
Purchased on the Ryskamp Fund and the L. W. Froehlich Charitable Fund.
Signed and dated on ledge at lower left, "B. PICART IVENIT M.DCC.XV".
King John V of Portugal; possibly John Post Heseltine, London; sale, Paris, Hotel Drouot, 5 December 1950, lot 3; sale, Monte Carlo, Sotheby's, 13 June 1982, lot 126; Bernard H. Breslauer, New York; acquired from Sam Fogg, New York.