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Diane And The Bath, attributed To Laurent Hubert (active From 1749 To 1780
Diane And The Bath, attributed To Laurent Hubert (active From 1749 To 1780 - Paintings & Drawings Style Louis XVI
Ref : 111441
10 000 €
Period :
18th century
Provenance :
Medium :
Red and black chalk heightened with white on paper
Dimensions :
L. 19.49 inch X l. 13.19 inch
Poncelin de Raucourt Fine Arts

Paintings and drawings, from 16th to 19th century

+ 33 (0)6 84 43 91 81
Diane And The Bath, attributed To Laurent Hubert (active From 1749 To 1780

(Active circa 1749 - 1780)
Diana and her Nymphs bathing

Red and black chalk heightened with white 49,5 x 33,5 cm

Private collection, France

We are grateful to Alastair Laing for having supported the attribution to Laurent Hubert on basis of photographs.

The attribution of this exuberant composition, which is closely related to compositions such as Triumph of Amphitrite surrounded by nereids, putti and tritons and seated in a shell-chariot (graphite, black chalk and red chalk, 30,5 x45,5 cm, with C.G. Boerner in 1986) derives from Richard Wunder1. On the strength of two signed drawings, he attributed a group of works, primarly rococo designs, to Laurent Hubert, sculptor and draughtsman, member of the Académie de Saint Luc from 1749 and exhibitor in the Salon from 1752. This group of ornamental drawings had previously been published by Desmond Fitzgerald in an exhibition at the Seiferheld Gallery in New York in 1963 as the work of Juste Aurèle Meissonnier (Turin 1695 - 1750 Paris).

As Alastair Laing noticed, the Nymphs are more substantially drawn than the sketchy female figures in the designs for the Triumph of Amphitrite (see above), The Rape of Proserpine, and The Toilette of Venus in the 1963 exhibition (nos. 7, 10, 13, 19)2, as well as than those in some of the ornamental designs, but they are credibly by the same hand.

The choice of a mythological subject such as Diana and her nymphs bathing also corresponds to the artist’s thematic corpus.
The handful of other extant drawings by or attributed to Laurent Hubert are all stylistically comparable with the present sheet. These include studies, in red and black chalk, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Stylistically our drawing so closely approximates that in the Metropolitan Museum of Art collection that confirms the attribution to Laurent Hubert: The Arming of Bellona, red and black chalk, 40,4 x 53,7 cm, N. 68.729.5, formerly attributed to Juste Aurèle Meissonnier. We find the same technique red and black chalk; and the composition saturated with figures, with the detail of the heads drawn symmetrically cut by a central axis. These two sheets underline Laurent Hubert's ability to infuse an energy and a life that seem to exceed the limits of the paper.

Furthermore we find the same architectural backgrounds in our drawing and the drawings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in which the figures standing out in the foreground and the center of the composition: attributed to Laurent Hubert, Study for a festival machine, formerly attributed to Juste Aurèle Meissonnier, black and red chalk, rubbed at top, and watermark traced in graphite on verso, 31,9 x 44,6 cm, N. 68.729.3; and attributed to Laurent Hubert, Design for a Festival Display of Fireworks (recto); Small Figures (verso), formerly attributed to Juste Aurèle Meissonnier (French, Turin 1695–1750 Paris), black chalk with touches of red chalk (recto); red chalk and graphite (verso), 28 x 47 cm, N. 68.729.4.

1 See Architectural and Ornament, Landscape, and Figure Drawings, collected by Richard Wunder, Middlebury College, Middlebury, Vt. 1975

2 Desmond Fitzgerald at the Seiferheld Gallery in New York and the Phoenix Art Museum in 1963, Juste Aurele Meissonnier and others, misattributed to Meissonnier

The mixed technique combining black and red chalk, the artist's preferred technique, is found in our drawing.

Last example, Laurent Hubert, Design for a sculpture: Venus and Cupid, black chalk on bu? laid paper, 32,2 x 21 cm, watermark: Partial with 1749, provenance: William and Patricia Redford; their sale, London, Sotheby’s, 11 July 2001, lot 188 Their sale, London, Sotheby’s Olympia, 11 December 2002, lot 138; Christopher Powney, thence by descent to a private collection; anonymous sale, New York, Sotheby’s, 23 January 2008, lot 201; private collection, England; with Stephen Ongpin.

In this drawing, Venus appears with the same slender silhouette and youthful face, with only the hands and feet sketched, evoking the figure of Diana or those of her nymphs.

In our sketch, Hubert Laurent demonstrates his mastery of composition. The figures of Diana and her nymphs are arranged with a fluidity that reflects their divine nature, gracefully moving through a landscape of ancient baths. The finesse of the drawing, with precise lines and delicately placed shadows, gives the scene an almost ethereal quality. As a composite divine figure, Diana reigns over nature and is mistress of all sources of life. The profusion of the composition corresponds to the myth of Diana, the embodiment of life.

Little is known of the French ornamental sculptor and designer Laurent Hubert, who is mentioned in a number of documents and by whom only two or three signed or inscribed drawings are known. Active in the second half of the 18th century, he was a recognized artist in his time for his involvement in large-scale projects, such as the decoration of aristocratic residences and the design of festival machines, the latter being elaborate structures used during public celebrations.

He is first recorded in 1747 as a designer at the Sèvres porcelain factory. A member of the Académie de Saint-Luc, where he was appointed a professor in 1775, Hubert exhibited clay and wax models and small bronzes at the Salons of 1752, 1753 and 1756. As has been noted, « By the nature of the subject matter of [his] drawings, it is evident that Hubert was never a sculptor in the strict sense but that he practiced rather as a designer of objects of household adornment that were intended to be carried out by specialized craftsmen. » On a drawing in a private collection in New York, a design for a sconce, executed on the back of an advertisement for a publishing house of ornament engravings, dated January 24, 1765, the artist noted that he lived on the « Quai d’Orléans isle St. Louis Notre Dame ». This address is further substantiated by the Mercure de France.

Laurent Hubert immersed himself in the artistic currents of his time and mastering the techniques that would define his distinctive style. He seems to have been active in Paris until c.1780.

This sheet therefore eloquently fits into Laurent Hubert's sparse corpus, enriching our understanding of his artistic production. This work is a testimony to the artist's virtuosity and significant contribution to the art of his time. It embodies the spirit and elegance of the late 18th century.

Poncelin de Raucourt Fine Arts


Drawing & Watercolor Louis XVI