Paris 1694-1752 Paris
The Abandonment of Armida (recto);
A Portrait presumed of Charles d’Orleans, Abbé de Rothelin(verso)
Black and red chalk (recto); Black chalk (verso).
8 3/8 x 11 3/8 inches (213 x 291 mm.)
Marquis Philippe de Chennevières (L. 2073); Paris, 5 May 1898, lot 38 (180FF to Riblaud).
Private collection, Paris.
Marquis Philippe de Chennevières, “Une collection de dessins d’artistes français”, L’Artiste, Article XVII, December 1896, p. 417.
Dr. Hippolyte Mireur, Dictionnaire des ventes d’art faites en France et à l’étranger pendant les XVIIIe et XIXe siècles, Paris , London, Vienna, and The Hague, 1901-1912, p. 306.
T. Lefrançois, Charles Coypel 1694-1752, Paris, 1994, p. 286, n° D69, illustrated.
This drawing is a preparatory study for the pictureof the same subject painted in 1733, recorded in a number of 18thCentury sales with its pendant The Sacrifice of Iphigenia. Both paintings are now lost.
Pierre Remy, the expert of the Prouteau sale of 1769 in which the pictures were included, commented in the catalogue note that theAbandonment of Armidapleased so much the Royal court that the Manufacture des Gobelin commissioned a tapestry cartoon of the same subject from the artist.The cartoon, painted in 1735 and delivered to the Gobelin in January 1736 for 4000 Livres, is now in the Louvre. The Abandonment of Armida was woven no less than nine times in the 18thCentury, making it one of Coypel’s most successful compositions, but thereby damaging the cartoon.
The tapestry (Fig. 1) is part of a series inspired by the librettiof the then famous playwright Philippe Quinault and was destined for the Queen’s apartment at Versailles. Armidawas written by Quinault in 1696 and was later reprinted in 1715 and 1739.The scene represented in the tapestry and the present drawing, Act V scene IV, depicts the witch Armida swooning while her lover Rinaldo and his companions are preparing to leave. The moment just before Armida swoons, when she curses the departing Rinaldo, was also represented by Coypel in a vertical painting, exhibited at the Salon of 1725
The unpublished versoof this drawing possibly depicts Coypel’s friend Charles d’Orleans, Abbé de Rothelin. A drawing of a similar composition is in a private collection in Paris. Thierry Lefrançois also mentions a painting which depicts the same sitter, dated 1742.