Exhibition | Carmontelle (1717–1806)

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on December 16, 2020

Carmontelle, Self-Portrait, ca. 1762; graphite, watercolor, red chalk, and gouache on paper
(Chantilly: Musée Condé)

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From the Domaine de Chantilly:

Carmontelle (1717–1806), ou la Douceur de Vivre / And the Age of Pleasures
Musée Condé, Château de Chantilly, 5 September 2020 — 28 March 2021

Curated by Nicole Garnier

A playwright, draughtsman, and landscape architect, Louis Carrogis— known as Carmontelle—was a brilliant connoisseur whose many talents reflect the cultivated and cosmopolitan world in which he lived. The organizer of festivities for the Duke of Orléans, famous for his portraits and improvised comedies called Proverbes, Carmontelle designed the Parc Monceau in Paris for the Duke of Chartres and perfected transparencies or long rolls of paper depicting delightful landscapes.

With sitters ranging from Mozart to Buffon, from Rameau to Baron Grimm, Carmontelle created a faithful portrait of mid-18th century Parisian society: princes of the blood, writers, philosophers, musicians, scientists, and elegant beauties of the ‘age of pleasures’—words coined by Talleyrand to describe the Ancien Régime. Thanks to Henri d’Orléans, Duke of Aumale (1822–1897), descendant of the Orléans who acquired the majority of this ensemble, the Condé museum at Chantilly has the best collection in the world of Carmontelle’s works with 484 drawn portraits and one transparency.

The son of a master cobbler, Louis Carrogis took the name ‘Carmontelle’ in 1744 after studying geometry. A topographer during the Seven Years’ War (1756–1763), he spent his spare time making portraits of the officers and organizing improvised comedies. In 1759, he entered the service of the Duke of Orleans as tutor to the young Duke of Chartres (1747–1793), the next Duke of Orléans and future Philippe Egalité; and from 1755 to 1784, he created ‘bad but accurate likenesses’ (Grimm) in gouache and watercolour of the entire court of the Orléans family at the Palais-Royal, Saint-Cloud, and Villers-Cotterêts. As an amateur draughtsman, Carmontelle preferred profile portraits for their ease of execution.

Nicole Garnier-Pelle, Carmontelle (1717–1806) ou le Temps de la Douceur de Vivre: Collection les Carnets de Chantilly n11 (Dijon: Éditions Faton, 2020), 96 pages, ISBN: 978-2878442779, €20.

Note: The exhibition, originally scheduled to close in January, has been extended until the end of March.

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