These particular works represent six in a once complete series of twelve tapestry cartoons, meant to depict 'Les Douze Mois Grotesques' (The Twelve Months). Audran executed the series in 1708-09, as part of the overall decorative scheme for the apartments of the Dauphin, later King Louis XV, at the château de Meudon. It is possible that both Antoine Watteau, who was then working under Audran, and Alexandre-François Desportes, who may have supplied the figures, helped work on this project. The overall decorative scheme presented here is consistent with the aesthetic established by the court of Louis XV. Audran uses ancient and mythological references, coupled with richly ornamented floral designs to project the image of the King as Apollo, high patron and protector of the Arts. The commission of the present works is recorded in the Comptes des Bâtiments: "Année 1709. Maison Royales.-Peinture: à Claude Audran, autre peintre, pour un tableau représentant un berceau où des singes sont à table; posé à Marly en 1709, 300 livres. A luy pour peintures faites aux Gobelins en 1708 et 1709, pour le noveau batiment de Monseigneur à Meudon 495 livres." The panels elaborately personify the months as deities, each panel adorned with its appropriate attributes and zodiac sign. They depict: February- Pisces, and Neptune standing on a shell, with sea horses above a ship; April-Taurus, and Venus with Cupid on a cloud, with a swan on a fountain; May-Gemini, and Apollo with bow and quiver, with monkeys making music; June-Cancer, and Mercury in flight, above a goat on a plinth; July-Leo, and Jupiter astride an eagle, above a brule-parfum and a bull; and September-Libra, and Vulcan seated on an anvil, with monkeys hammering an anvil. The original tapestry set, woven at the Gobelins in 1708-09 for the Grand Dauphin at Meudon, is now in the Mobilier National, Paris. A set of tapestries woven after the 1726 engravings of Jean Audran was sold from the Patiño Collection, Sotheby's New York, 1 November 1986, lot 141. A further set was sold Christie's London, 21 June 2000, lot 180.
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