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What is this?

Design for a wall panel. At the bottom, two satyrs sacrifice flowers at the foot of a burning candelabrum. The satyrs support, with their heads, two half female figures (half female and half flower stem). The figures hold a medallion with a maenad. A putto, supporting a vase, stands on top of the medallion. At the very to center of the composition are two billing doves and at the edges two putti. The putti hold festoons and garlands from which then flower baskets are suspended. The doves hold long garlands, which are then connected to two female figures (one at each side of the central composition). These female figures in turn stand on long decorative spears, which rest on the end tips of the half female figures.

This object is full of stories

This design for a decorative panel offers a variation on the grotesque motif, an ornamental style that was first seen in ancient Rome. Characterized by the non-narrative assembly of fantastic animals on a two dimensional surface, grotesques were capable of limitless permutations and invited the imagination of countless designers throughout the centuries. The design is host to a lively cast of classical figures: cavorting satyrs, graceful caryatids and plump putti are all connected by a system of garlands and candelabra, together forming a strong vertical axis. Jean-Guillaume Moitte, working in pre-revolutionary France, had stylistic affinities with Ancien Régime designers such as Jean Berain, who helped to popularize the grotesque in the seventeenth century. Moitte designed the panel as part of a commission for the Hôtel de Salm in Paris; the artist was one of the main sculptors hired to work on the building, then the private residence of Prince Frederick III of Salm-Kyrburg. The bright turquoise gouache of the drawing is typical of the highly saturated color palette then popular for domestic interiors.

This is a drawing from France. It is dated 1785 and we acquired it in 1911. Purchased for the Museum by the Advisory Council.

Its medium is

pen and black ink, brush and gouache, black chalk on toned paper, lined

Its dimensions are

43 x 10.1cm (16 15/16 x 4in.) Mat: 55.9 x 40.6 cm (22 x 16 in.) Mount: 46.8 x 13.8 cm (18 7/16 x 5 7/16 in.) Frame: 60.3 x 44.8 x 2.5 cm (23 3/4 in. x 17 5/8 in. x 1 in.)

It is signed

Signed on the mount in pen and black ink, lower right: Moitte sculpteur 1785.

This object has been included in the following exhibitions:

See more stuff from the Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design department.

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If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=http://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18170501/ |title=Drawing, "Panel of Arabesques for the Hôtel de Salm, Paris", 1785 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=20 December 2014 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>

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