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

Designs by Gabriel de Saint-Aubin

  Plate Design: Feathers and Flowers
Pen, ink, and watercolor
Manufacture nationale de Sèvres,
Département des collections

This plate design belongs to a group of four that Saint-Aubin sent to the Sèvres porcelain factory, where he had family connections. One of the four was surely submitted for Madame du Barry’s approval, and the others probably were as well. As far as we know, none of them was ever manufactured. The conventional pattern of feathered plumes and roses comes closest to works produced within the artist’s family circle.



  Plate Design: Allegories of the Arts
Pen, ink, and watercolor
Manufacture nationale de Sèvres,
Département des collections

The design shows Allegories of the Arts (Architecture, Engraving, Sculpture, Dance, and Poetry) radiating around the airborne figure of inspiring genius. It is also noteworthy for its miniature renderings of works of art well known to contemporaries — including Jean-Baptiste Pigalle’s
pedestrian monument to Louis XV at Rheims (to the left of Sculpture)—comparable to sketches in the artist’s hand-illustrated catalogues.



  The Four Vases
Etching and drypoint
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Suites of etched vases for the use of architects and designers became something of a fashion in Paris from the 1740s. The fertility of Saint-Aubin’s imagination is evident in the joyous putti, indolent water nymphs, and meditative old men seated on lions who adorn the vessels. Unable to stop himself, however, he also etched various minuscule vignettes in the margins of the two lower vases.



  Design for a Watch
Pen and gray ink, brush, and gray wash
Boymans-van Beuningen Museum, Koenigs Collection,

Saint-Aubin only rarely designed objects such as this exquisite watch case shown frontally and in profile, featuring a feminine portrait medallion and allegories evoking the iconography of Friendship currently associated with Madame de Pompadour. The complexity of this design would have made it almost impossible to execute, suggesting that the artist intended the drawing as a presentation piece to call attention to his talents.

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.