Claude Gillot

A pair of double sided drawings: Costume designs (recto); Arabesques designs (verso)

Lot Closed

December 4, 02:25 PM GMT


7,000 - 9,000 GBP

Lot Details


Claude Gillot

Langres 1673 - 1722 Paris

A pair of double sided drawings: Costume designs (recto); Arabesques designs (verso)

Both pen and grey ink and wash over black chalk (recto); pen and brown ink and red/brown wash over black chalk (verso);

one sheet bears signature in pen and brown ink, lower right: Gillot XII and also bears indistinct inscription on verso: va......?

unframed: each 210 by 155 mm

framed: each 460 by 320 mm


These two characterful and spontaneous double-sided sheets by Claude Gillot are rare examples of his work as a designer of arabesques and costumes. The arabesques (on the verso of both drawings), executed in the artist’s preferred combination of black ink and red wash, are on the same scale as the large cache of designs in Berlin’s Kunstbibliothek.1 The costume designs (on the recto of both sheets), drawn using point of the brush and grey wash, are comparable with Gillot’s work in the same technique for a small group of theatrical drawings.

The sheet of arabesques with a genie presents several decorative combinations and details. The central motifs depict two genies supporting a basin underneath umbrellas, with a female bust at the centre within a garlanded trellis, surmounted by a figure in theatrical costume sitting cross legged on a pillow, perhaps holding a wand. To the right are small sketches of a dancer dressed as a sorcerer, and a decorative motif with a genie, as well as an arresting sketch of a wigged man looking over his shoulder from behind a ledge. The theme of sorcery and costumes for sorcerers appear elsewhere in Gillot's drawings for the theatre.

 The second sheet contains a design for an arabesque with hippocamps in the centre, above an oar and trident with mermen below. These nautical motifs were common among Gillot's arabesque designs, which include a number of variations on arabesques with Jupiter. This drawing also contains a striking detail: a head of a man wearing a hat at a jaunty angle. The face has exaggerated pointed ears, long hair, and a long trailing moustache. It is drawn in the same manner as a double-sided sheet of studies in Berlin on which Gillot depicted himself making a wide range of theatrical expressions. 

The two sheets of costume studies of dancers are rare in Gillot's oeuvre, although examples of such costume sheets with figures in two rows can be found on drawings in the Ecole des beaux-arts, Paris, and the Musée des beaux-arts, Dijon.The figures' raised arms and trailing sleeves indicate that they were characters singing and dancing. Comparable costumed figures appear on more finished sheets of costume studies from an album that surfaced in 2004. The female costumes are also close to those found in two compositional studies by Gillot, representing a scene that may be set at the Fair at Bezons; one is in the Harvard Art Museums (Inv. No. 1991.240), and the other at the Städel Museum, Frankfurt (inv. No 16349).3

Dr Jennifer Tonkovich has kindly confirmed the attribution to Claude Gillot based on digital images and has provided the comparative material described above.