Drawing, Project for the Tomb of the Maréchal de Belle-Isle
This is a Drawing. It was created by Augustin Pajou and made for Maréchal Charles-Louis-Auguste Fouquet. We acquired it in 1931. Its medium is black chalk, pen and black ink, point of brush and brown-black ink; gray and brown wash, red watercolor, white gouache on yellow-brown wove paper. It is a part of the Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design department.
This highly finished drawing is a speculative design for a tomb by the French academician and sculptor Augustin Pajou (1730-1809). It is an audacious composition that presents a novel outlook on death and the afterlife in eighteenth-century France. It was designed for Charles-Louis-Auguste Fouquet ( 1684 - 1761), Maréchal de Belle-Isle who enjoyed an illustrious military and political career under Louis XV. In Pajou’s design, Maréchal is received by his pre-deceased wife and his son, all dressed all’antica and their poses inspired by baroque catafalques. The figures replace the Christian allegorical figures that would normally be in their places according to conventions of tomb design. In the background, the angel of death closes the door to the sepulchral chamber to indicate that the Maréchal is the last of his line to die. Pajou has created an imaginary architectural space not privy to the living—a glimpse inside the sepulchral chamber for the dead spirits. This design negotiates traditional visual imagery with innovative narratives--that of the tragic extinction of a family line –and echoes a transitional moment when Enlightenment ideals influenced representations of death and the afterlife.
Cite this object as
Drawing, Project for the Tomb of the Maréchal de Belle-Isle; Augustin Pajou (1730–1809); Italy; black chalk, pen and black ink, point of brush and brown-black ink; gray and brown wash, red watercolor, white gouache on yellow-brown wove paper; 1931-73-234
This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition The Cooper-Hewitt Collections: A Design Resource.