his sale, Paris, 26-27 May 1893, no. 13 of lot 112, and again 19-23 May 1896, lot 866 (incorrectly titled);
his sale, Paris, 15-18 May 1899, lot 258 (with the same incorrect title);
Georges Dormeuil (L.1146a)
Paris, Exposition rétrospective de la Ville de Paris, Exposition Universelle, Pavillion de la Ville de Paris, 1900, no. 278;
Paris, Hôtel de M. Jean Charpentier, Exposition des Saint-Aubin, 1925, no. 46;
Copenhagen, Charlottenborg Palace, L' Art français au XVIIIe siècle, 1935
E. Dacier, Gabriel de Saint-Aubin, Paris and Brussels 1931, vol. II, p. 21, no. 97;
Gabriel de Saint-Aubin, exhib. cat., New York, Frick Collection and Paris, Musée du Louvre, 2007-8, p. 149, under no. 21, reproduced p. 148, fig. 1
This delightful and fanciful drawing, until 1925 incorrectly identified as France Welcoming a Princess of the House of Savoy, in fact shows King Christian VII of Denmark, received by a female allegorical figure of the city of Paris, wearing an ermine cloak. The King is portrayed at the moment of his arrival, still in his elaborate carriage with his coat-of-arms clearly visible on the door which he is about to open, while his host waits anxiously to greet him. Two winged putti and Mercury complete the scene. Saint-Aubin must have made the drawing in part for his own amusement but also as a vignette to satisfy the curiosity that the event aroused around him. In another exquisite and densely worked drawing he portrayed the King, travelling incognito under the name Travendal, attending a life-drawing session at the Académie Royal on 8 November 1768 with the Marquis de Marigny.1 The nineteen year-old King landed at Calais on 14 October and arrived in Paris on the 21st. He visited Fontainebleau, Versailles and Chantilly and left on 12 December to return home. Apparently the French eagerly discussed his small stature and the extent of his education.2
The drawings Gabriel de Saint-Aubin made as an observer and chronicler of contemporary Parisian history are the most interesting and fascinating aspect of his work, even if (as Kim de Beaumont, pointed out in the catalogue of the New York exhibition, loc. cit.), he often portrayed great occasions that he is unlikely to have attended personally. In the final assessment, Saint-Aubin remains a visual diarist with the imagination of an artist, and his descriptions of events help to recapture moments and sensations which otherwise would be lost, always recorded in his very special and unique draftsmanship.
1. See Literature, Gabriel de Saint-Aubin, New York exhib. cat., no. 21
2. ibid., p. 149
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