Cruyl, a native of Ghent with some priestly training, was an accomplished topographical artist. He travelled in Italy and then came to France where he worked in the service of Louis XIV, as an architectural draughtsman and perhaps also as an architect. As well as the two companion drawings to this, five other views of the Pont Royal by Cruyl are known, all in a smaller format (approximately 210 x 300 mm), and dated between 1686 and 1689. Two of these, in the Louvre, show the bridge completed, seen from both directions, and presented in a straightforward manner. 2 Two others, in the Bibliothèque Nationale, show aspects of the construction from a near viewpoint.3 The fifth was recently on the London art market.4
The Pont Neuf du Louvre was Louis XIV's gift to his 'bonne ville de Paris' and for that reason became commonly known as the Pont Royal. It is the third oldest bridge in the capital, after the Pont Neuf and the Pont Marie, which link the right and left banks to the Ile de la Cité, the medieval centre of royal power. The Pont Neuf du Louvre was erected to replace an old wooden bridge which had been carried away by a flood on 20 February 1684. It was designed by Jules Hardouin Mansart, the King's architect, and executed by Jacques IV Gabriel and François Romain, a Dominican monk from Holland who was apparently responsible for the innovative construction techniques, including the dredging and the timber caissons. The works were supervised by an eminent royal officer, Michel Le Pelletier de Souzy, Directeur Général des Fortifications et du Génie.
This view is taken looking north and is important not only for what it reveals about the complex technical engineering works of the construction site, but also for what it shows of the contemporary geography of the city at a moment when it was beginning a phase of rapid expansion, outside its long-standing former limits. Beyond the grand edifice of the Louvre, with the gardens of the Tuileries to the left, we see only a relatively narrow band of buildings, and the hill of Montmartre that rises behind remains rural and verdant.
1. The others: Jatta, op. cit., nos. 108 D, fig. 136, dated 1686 (sold, London, Sotheby’s, 4 July 2012, lot 34) and 109 D, fig. 137, dated 1687 (sold London, Christie's, 7 July 2009, lot 32)
2. Jatta, op. cit., nos. 14, 15, figs. 139, 140
3. Ibid., nos. 11, 12, figs. 134, 135
4. With Stephen Ongpin Fine Art, Master Drawings, 2015, no. 9
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