Antoine Denis Chaudet

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Antoine Denis Chaudet
King Joash Interrogated by his Grandmother Ahaliah in the Temple of Jerusalem
ca. 1800
Pen and black ink and black chalk, heightened with white, on tan paper.
11 5/16 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 "Athalie," 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 depicts Act II, Scene VII, and was engraved by Abraham Girardet (1764-1823), appearing in volume 3, opposite p. 132.The play, a tragedy in five acts, was written in 1691 and based on the biblical story of Athalie, widow of the king of Judah. Athalie has abandoned the Jewish faith for worship of Baal but is eventually overthrown by the return of the late king's grandson, Joash, who reclaims the throne, restores Judaism to the land, and has Athalie executed.
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 Library has 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 "Esther" (Acc. No. 2002.12), 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.; at bottom, Dieu laissa-t-il jamais ses enfants au Besoin? / Aux petits des oiseaux il onne leur pasture / et sa bonté s'étend sur toute la nature.

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.
Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, Inventaire du Fonds Francais, Paris, 1968, vol. 10, p. 296, no. 51.
Gordon N. Ray, The Art of the French Illustrated Book 1700-1914, New York, 1986, pp. 123-26, no. 72, repr.