69
69
Louis-Jean Desprez
DESIGN FOR A STAGE SET: THE TEMPLE OF NEPTUNE
Estimate
60,00080,000
LOT SOLD. 75,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
69
Louis-Jean Desprez
DESIGN FOR A STAGE SET: THE TEMPLE OF NEPTUNE
Estimate
60,00080,000
LOT SOLD. 75,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Old Master Drawings

|
New York

Louis-Jean Desprez
AUXERRE 1743 - STOCKHOLM 1804
DESIGN FOR A STAGE SET: THE TEMPLE OF NEPTUNE
Pen and black ink and watercolor, over traces of black chalk;
bears inscription, versoDecoration pour Le Temple de Neptune / inventé et Dessiné par Desprez architecte du Roi de Suède / 1792 and further inscribed below, in graphite: (Desprez(1743-1804)
460 by 725 mm; 18 1/8  by 28 1/2  in
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Provenance

Mme. Dupuis, Paris;
with Jean de Cayeux, Galerie Cailleux (L.4461);
Claus Virch, New York,
his sale and others, London, Sotheby's, 8 July 2015, lot 126

Exhibited

New York, New York Cultural Center, Collectors Anonymous; Four Private New York Collections, 1972

Literature

L. Hautecoeur, 'Un dessin de Desprez, architecte', L'Architecture, vol. XXXVIII, no. 19, October 1925, pp. 351-2, reproduced

Catalogue Note

Desprez studied in Paris under the draughtsman and engraver Charles Nicolas Cochin.  His early work shows the influence of the etchings of Stefano della Bella and Jacques Callot.  Shortly after being awarded the Grand Prix de Rome in 1777, he was commissioned to help with the illustrations to the Abbé de Saint-Non's Voyage Pittoresque, ou description des royaumes de Naples et de Sicile, along with a number of other young French artists, including Claude-Louis Châtelet.

In 1783 Desprez's work was brought to the attention of the Swedish King, Gustav III, who was looking for someone to take charge of the stage decorations for the historical dramas he was then planning.  The King made Desprez an extremely generous offer, and the artist moved to Sweden in 1784.  There, despite initially primitive working conditions and much resentment from the resident Swedish artists, his first designs for the première performance of Queen Christina were a sensation, and for ten years he continued to produce magnificent set designs, architectural plans and historical paintings.  Following the assassination of King Gustav in 1792 Desprez's fortunes declined and his attempts to obtain commissions from other European courts failed.  He died in penniless obscurity in 1804.

Although we have not been able to connect the present work securely with one of Desprez's theatrical projects, the drawing itself is extremely impressive, both in composition and technique.  The theatricality and inventiveness of design throughout is typical of the extraordinary imagination and revolutionary ability that Desprez possessed to transform the stage into a vast and magnificent panorama.  A very comparable design of this type by Desprez was sold, New York, Sotheby's, 13 January 1993 (lot 134), and others featured in the 1992 Stockholm exhibition of the artist's work.1

1. Stockholm, Nationalmuseum, Louis Jean Desprez, Tecknare, Theaterkonstnär, Arkitekt, 1992, pp. 65-96

Old Master Drawings

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New York