Gamelin is known to have received a commission from the religious confraternity of the Penitents Bleus of Narbonne for a series of canvases depicting the life of St Louis, which he completed in 1789. Three other drawings by the artist with the same subject as this are known: two are very different from the present composition1, but the third, rather smaller sheet, formerly on the Paris art market, is much closer.2 A companion drawing, of similar dimensions, representing Louis IX at the Battle of Damietta, was with Colnaghi in 1991 and is now in a French private collection.3
The subject depicted is from the life of King Louis IX, later St. Louis (1214-1270). After recovering from a serious illness, Louis decided to embark on a Holy Crusade, and in 1248 sailed from the port of Aigues-Mortes with his army.
1. Photographs at the Witt Library, as whereabouts unknown, but probably the same as the two drawings of this subject, both dated 1788, listed as being at the Musée Fabre, Montpellier and in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Narbonne (see Le Néo-Classicisme français: Dessins des Musées de Province, exhib. cat. Paris, Grand Palais, 1974-75, p. 148).
2. Paris, Paul Prouté, Catalogue 'Primatice', 1986, no. 29
3. New York and London, Colnaghi, Master Drawings, 1991, no. 48, reproduced
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