Antoine Denis Chaudet

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Antoine Denis Chaudet
Esther Appearing before Ahasuerus
ca. 1800
Pen and black ink and black chalk on cream-colored paper.
11 1/8 x 7 9/16 inches (284 x 192 mm)
Bequest of Gordon N. Ray, 1987.

Chaudet's drawing is preparatory for an illustration to Jean Baptiste Racine's "Esther," one of the plays included in Pierre Didot's 1801 deluxe edition of Racine's "Oeuvres" (Paris, Pierre Didot l'aîné, 1801, 3 vols.). The composition illustrates Act II, Scene VII, and was engraved by Jean Mathieu (1749), appearing in volume 3, opposite p. 50. Racine wrote "Esther", a tragedy in three acts based on the Biblical Book of Esther, in 1689. In this scene, Esther appears before her husband, the Persian king, Ahasuerus.
Didot's three-volume edition of Racine's "Oeuvres" set a new standard for luxury in French book production, with full-page illustrations for the six plays included, each play being illustrated by the same artist for consistency. The Morgan preserves a copy of Didot's publication (of which only 250 examples were printed) in the Gordon Ray Collection (PML 140193-195), as well as three other preparatory drawings, another by Chaudet for "Athalie" (Acc. No. 2002.13), one by Anne-Louis Girodet de Roucy-Trioson (1767-1824) for "Phèdre" (Acc. No. 1997.3), and one by François Gérard (1770-1837) for "Bajazet" (Acc. No. 2002.14).


Inscribed at lower left, CHAUDET INV.; Vivez: le scepter D'or que vous tend cette main / pour vous de ma clemence est un gage certain

Gordon Norton Ray (1915-1986), New York.
Associated names: 

Ray, Gordon Norton, 1915-1986, former owner.


R. Portalis, Les dessinateurs d'illusrations au dix-huitième siècle, Paris, 1877, vol. 1, 1877, p. 66-67.
H. Cohen, Guide de l'Amateur de Livres à Gravures du XVIIIe siècle, 1912, vol. 2, 849-50.
Gordon N. Ray, The Art of the French Illustrated Book 1700-1914, New York, 1986, p. 123-26, no. 72, repr.