A canvas by Jean-Baptiste Oudry acquired by Compiègne

Jean-Baptiste Oudry (1686-1755)
Louis XV holding
a Hunting Dog on its Leash

Oil on canvas - 60 x 51.5 cm
Compiègne, Musée national du Château
Photo : Sotheby’s Paris

27/8/08 — Acquisition — Compiègne, Museé national du Château — Compiègne was a favorite among the royal residences for its excellent hunting grounds. Louis XV, who had Jacques-Ange Gabriel rebuild the château particularly enjoyed it and started riding through the domain at a very early age in pursuit of wild game. Visitors can see proof of it still today in the Galerie des Chasses where the walls are covered with tapestries after the cartoons executed by Jean-Baptiste Oudry.

On 25 June 2008 at Sotheby’s Paris, the Musée du Château acquired a canvas by this painter representing Louis XV hunting in the Compiègne forest (ill.) for 180,000 € (before charges). The young king, 18, is recognizable in a brown suit wearing the Ordre du Saint-Esprit and . The escorts surrounding him belong to the Count of Toulouse, no doubt on horseback, legitimate bastard son of Louis XIV and Madame de Montespan. The Count had organized eighteen hunts in Compiègne in June 1728 to which he had invited his nephew.
This study, although different from the final compositions, can be linked to the nine tapestries commissioned from the painter to decorate the Galerie des Chasses. During the Oudry retrospective at the Grand Palais in 1982-1983, only three tapestries (two series were woven, the one in Compiègne which has lost much of its colour and another one held at the Palazzo Pitti in much better condition) and some preparatory drawings had been presented. Eight of the nine studies known at the time, held by the Musée Nissim de Camondo were unavailable for loan (the ninth was in a private collection and has since been acquired by this museum). Eight of the painted cartoons are in Fontainebleau, installed in wooden panelling and the ninth, in poor condition, is in the Louvre’s storage rooms.

This recently acquired work by Compiègne is perhaps a first draft or an unfinished project for this series. The subject is related to King Holding a Hunting Dog, Going to the Woods, at the Crossing of the Lonely Well, Forest of Compiègne.

Version française

Didier Rykner, mercredi 27 août 2008

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