The Frick Collection
The West Gallery of The Frick Collection
 
Exhibitions: Gabriel de Saint-Aubin
 

Gabriel de Saint-Aubin (1724–1780)
October 30, 2007, through January 27, 2008

Books and Catalogues Annotated by Gabriel de Saint-Aubin

By the end of his life, Saint-Aubin had gained a reputation for “drawing at all times and in all places.” His brother remembered a service at the cathedral of Notre-Dame when Gabriel began sketching the celebrated preacher whom everyone had come to hear. All those around him began to watch the artist at work, until the priest interrupted his sermon to address the congregation: “When your eyes have been satisfied, I trust that you will lend me your ears.”

Having gained tremendous manual dexterity early on as a designer and etcher, Saint-Aubin also delighted in filling the margins of travel books, auction catalogues, and guides to the Salon (the livret) with illustrations and comments (the last at times very difficult to decipher). His thumbnail sketches of works of art that appeared at auction have made his annotated sales catalogues a unique resource in the history of the eighteenth-century art market. Such was his virtuosity that his illustrations have allowed art historians to trace many of the paintings, sculptures, and drawings that appeared in these sales.

Saint-Aubin also illustrated and annotated the small guide (the livret) that was published on the occasion of the biennial Salon, in which members of the Académie royale exhibited their latest work in the Salon Carré of the Louvre (several views of the Salon are on view in the galleries downstairs). Here his sketches were more carefully prepared, with certain ages, elaborated in wash and pen and ink, becoming works of art in themselves.


A Sheet of Studies of Works from the Neyman Sale   A Sheet of Studies of Works from the Neyman Sale
July 8–11, 1776
Private collection, courtesy of Thomas Agnew’s Sons, Ltd., London

No fewer than twenty works appear on the Neyman sheet. Such is the legibility of Saint-Aubin’s thumbnail sketches that it is possible to associate the most prominent of them, Jacob Jordaens’s early Satyr and the Peasant (c. 1620) — no. 1266 at middle right — with a version of this composition in Pollock House, Glasgow.

 


Catalogue des tableaux et autres effets de M. Thélusson  

Catalogue des tableaux et autres effets
de M. Thélusson

December 1, 1777
Philadelphia Museum of Art

At the sale of the collection of the Protestant banker Georges-Tobie Thélusson (1720–1776) Saint-Aubin took particular care over the two paintings then attributed to Nicolas Poussin. The Rest on the Flight into Egypt, c. 1634, at lower left, is now in the Oskar Reinhart Collection, Winterthur; The Deification of Aeneas, c. 1640, above it, now in the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, has since been recognized as an early work by Charles Lebrun.


 

Catalogue des tableaux, originaux De bons Maîtres des Ecoles d'Italie, des Pays-Bas & de France, Qui composent le Cabinet d'un Artiste [?Martin, peintre?]   Catalogue des tableaux, originaux De bons Maîtres des Ecoles d'Italie, des Pays-Bas & de France, Qui composent le Cabinet d'un Artiste [“Martin, peintre”]
December 13, 1773
The Morgan Library & Museum, New York

Two annotated copies of the sale catalogue of the Belgian painter Guillaume Martin have been located (the second is in the Petit-Palais, Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris). Saint-Aubin has grouped eleven thumbnail sketches on the verso of the title page, each with its lot number at upper left for easy cross-referencing. The large horizontal picture at the top of the page is a copy of Veronese’s Last Supper, lot 12 in the catalogue.


The accompanying catalogue is available, in both English and French, in the Museum Shop.

Major funding for Gabriel de Saint-Aubin (1724–1780) has been provided by The Florence Gould Foundation. Additional generous support has been provided by The Christian Humann Foundation, the Michel David-Weill Foundation, and The Grand Marnier Foundation.

NEA (National Endowment for the Arts   The project is also supported, in part, by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.