- Museum number
The surrender of a Dutch city to Louis XIV
Pen and black ink, brush and brown wash, heightened with white gouache, traces of black chalk underdrawing
- Production date
Height: 247 millimetres
Width: 357 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Similar pencil annotations are found on other drawings, in the Ashmoleon (1964,16.4) and Courtauld (D.1954.RW.3814) - see note 1 below. The BM drawing must be related to a lost or never executed series of paintings representing military victories of the French monarch, a related study of the same format and technique of the 'Louis XIV crossing the Rhine' is in the Courtauld Institute (Witt Bequest 3636; Kennedy and A. Thackray 1991, no. 11).
Lit.: G. Kennedy and A. Thackray, in exhib. cat., Courtauld Institute Galleries, 'French drawing: XVI - XIX centuries' 1991, under no. 11; P. Stein, in exhib. cat., New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art and London, BM, 'French Drawings from Clouet to Seurat', 2005, no. 35
The son of painter Michel Corneille `le père` (c.1601/3-64), and the elder brother of Jean-Baptiste Corneille, Corneille was referred to in the seventeenth century as `l'aîné` (the elder), and in more recent times as `le fils` (the son) or simply 'the second'. Before winning the `Prix de Rome` in 1659, Corneille spent time in the studios of the two leading artists of the day, Charles Le Brun (1619-90) and Pierre Mignard (1612-95). He made productive use of his four years in Rome, and his sheets of chalk studies of heads and hands especially suggest a deeply ingrained admiration for Raphael (1483-1520). Pierre-Jean Mariette, in his `Abécédario`, also described Michel Corneille II's early employment copying and retouching drawings in the Jabach collection,(n.2) a statement supported by Monbeig Goguel's close study of the Jabach drawings in the Louvre.(n.3)
The technique of this sheet with its emphatic outlines and pictorial use of wash and gouache is entirely characteristic of Corneille's compositional studies. It must have formed part of a set with Louis XIV `Crossing the Rhine` (fig.1; Courtauld Institute Galleries). Both sheets celebrate Louis XIV's military campaigns by employing largely allegorical means. A striking compositional parallel can be seen in Corneille's wall painting (1680-81) in the Salle Henri IV, the soldiers' refectory, at the Invalides, although the painting is different in format and certain details.(n.4) Corneille's monarchical allegories are clearly indebted to Le Brun's iconography for the Galerie des Glaces at Versailles, which used a compartmentalized ceiling to glorify the military accomplishments of the king.(n.5) The `Histoire du Roy` tapestries woven at the Gobelins after designs by Le Brun and Adam van der Meulen (1632-90) portray Louis XIV's military victories without allegory, yet other drawings and cartoons survive, apparently collaborations between Le Brun, van der Meulen, and François Verdier (1651-1730), that treat the same subjects with the addition of flying allegorical figures. In 1930 G. Brière hypothesized that a second set of tapestries, mixing allegory and naturalism, may have been planned.(n.6) Michel Corneille II would surely have seen some of these preparatory works in Le Brun's studio, but whether the Courtauld and BM drawings represent designs for an unexecuted project, such as a royal decorative scheme, or were merely an exercise or homage is not known.
Unlike the `Histoire du Roy` tapestries, where the action is set against sweeping vistas based on van der Meulen's detailed landscape drawings, the designs of Michel Corneille II use a large cast of characters to fill the foreground with animation. In the BM sheet a stately Louis XIV arrives on horseback, heralded by figures of Victory and Fame, as Jupiter looks on benevolently from the heavens. Allegorical figures representing the city and its inhabitants surrender to the king, among them a lion, the symbol of the United Provinces. In the distance can be seen the city in flames and bodies littering the battlefield. As one frequently finds in the drawings of Corneille, the unused corners are filled with small sketches in a stiff and scratchy ink line, ideas for, or reprises of, some of the figures in the main design.
Text by P. Stein, 2005 as cited above.
Fig.1 MICHEL CORNEILLE II, `Louis XIV Crossing the Rhine`, pen and brown ink, brush and brown wash, with white and yellow gouache, over a black chalk underdrawing, 301 X449 mm. Courtauld Institute Galleries, London, Witt Bequest 1952 (3636).
1 Similar annotations can be found on the verso of a drawing by Hyacinthe Collin de Vermont in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (1964.16.4; see Whiteley, 2000,1, p.211, no.661), and on the verso of a copy after Annibale Carracci attributed to Carlo Cignani in the Courtauld Institute of Art, London (D.1952.RW.3814). E.E. Pulteney has not been identified, although an Elizabeth Evelyn Pulteney of Ashley, Northamptonshire married Major Arthur Gerald Boyle on 7 June 1890; see Brian Tompsett, University of Hull, UK, 'Directory of Royal Genealogical Data',
http://www3.dcs.hull.ac.uk/cgi-bin/gedlkup/n-royal?royal253i8, accessed 15 April 2005.
2 P. de Chennevières and A. de Montaiglon, eds., `Ahécédario de P. J. Mariette`, Paris, 1851-60 (reprinted 1966), II (1853-4), p.7.
3 Catherine Monbeig-Goguel, "Taste and trade: the retouched drawings in the Everard Jabach collection at the Louvre', The Burlington Magazine, CXXX, 1988, no.1028, pp.821-35.
4 See Nicole Hanotaux, 'De nouvelles attributions pour les peintures murales des réfectoires des soldats aux Invalides', `Revue de la Société des Amis du Musée de l'Armée`, no.102 (December 1991), pp.12-23. J.-C. Boyer drew my attention to this article in connection with the BM drawing (correspondence, 4 January 2005).
5 L. Beauvais, `Charles Le Brun, 1619-1690`, Paris, 2000, 1, pp.151-280.
6 G. Brière, 'Van der Meulen collaborateur de Le Brun', Bulletin de la Société de l'Histoire de l'Art français, 1930, pp.150-56. See also F. Stein, `Charles Le Brun, la Tenture de l'Histoire du Roy`, Worms, 1985, and exhib.cat., Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon and Musée d'Histoire de la Ville de Luxembourg, `A la gloire du Roi, Van der Meulen, peintre des conquêtes de Louis XIV`, 1998, pp.142-60.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2005/6 Nov-Jan, New York, Met Mus of Art, Clouet to Seurat/BM, no. 35
2006 June-Oct, BM, Clouet to Seurat/BM, no. 35
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- This item has an uncertain or incomplete provenance for the years 1933-45. The British Museum welcomes information and assistance in the investigation and clarification of the provenance of all works during that era.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number