The Palace of Circe
- (ca. 1732), black chalk and gray wash heightened with white on blue paper
- 12.4 x 20.9 in. (31.5 x 53.0 cm.)
- Musée du Louvre
This is one of a series of drawings the artist made for a set of Beauvais tapestries with subjects from the Metamorphoses of Ovid. The prominent large animals, possibly meant to represent dogs or wolves, as well as the pigs in the right corner are a testament both to the artist’s interest in depicting animals. They also relate to the story of the sorceress Circe, who transformed the wandering Odysseus’s companions into swine in Homer’s original version and the various kinds of beasts recounted by Ovid.
About the Artist
Jean-Baptiste Oudry (1686-1755) was a French painter, draftsman and designer. His most remembered painted works concentrated on animals, hunts, and landscapes. Oudry was also a prefered painter of Louis XV, king of France, and was often called to Versailles to paint the royal hounds while in the king’s presence. He became a member of the Académie de Peinture et de Sculpture in 1719 and a professor there in 1743.
Oudry also had great success designing tapestries. In 1734 he was named director of the Beauvais tapestry manufactory, which he re-established by bringing in artists like François Boucher. Two years later, he became director of the Gobelins manufactory. Supervising all tapestry production gave Oudry considerable influence on French decorative arts. Oudry’s work was marked by attention to detail combined with freedom of execution. A master of chiaroscuro, he maintained a lifelong interest in light and reflections. [DES-01/11]