This oil sketch on paper in colored grisaille is unusual in that it incorporates tones of gray, brown, gold, and bluish-green. The subject is an allegorical bronze on a stone plinth, but whether the artist intended a rough design for a proposed monument or tomb or simply a work of the imagination cannot be said. In the eighteenth century, the plumed helmet, breastplate, and cloak of the male would have suggested a hero of antiquity. The female with the sun upon her breast should be understood as symbolizing Virtue while the obelisk held by the figure opposite may indicate that she is Fortitude or suggest a funereal connotation. In the foreground are the conquered, Invidia and Time, whom the hero has overcome.
[Katharine Baetjer 2014]
[Georges Hoentschel, Paris, until 1906; sold to Morgan]; J. Pierpont Morgan, New York (1906)
New York. American Federation of the Arts. "The Master Artist (circulating exhibition)," January 1, 1967–January 31, 1968, no catalogue.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Cleopatra's Needle," December 2, 2013–June 8, 2014, no catalogue.
Charles Sterling. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of French Paintings. Vol. 1, XV–XVIII Centuries. Cambridge, Mass., 1955, pp. 139–40, ill., proposes that this may have been a sketch for a sculpture honoring Louis XVI when he became dauphin in 1765; finds it close in style to the sketch of the Rape of Europa in the museum at Amiens; tentatively identifies the standing figures as Peace and the Glory of Princes, and the seated figures as Envy and Time; calls it worthy of Boucher himself.
Alexandre Ananoff with the collaboration of Daniel Wildenstein. François Boucher. Lausanne, 1976, vol. 2, p. 226, no. 571, fig. 1548, as "Projet pour une statue d'un monarque défunt"; note that it may have been designed for the tomb of the dauphin Louis, who died in 1765; identify the standing figure at the left as Virtue and observe that the pyramid held by the figure at right is funereal; call the others Slander and Time.
Alastair Laing. Letter to Katharine Baetjer. March 19, 1991, as "Study for a Monument to a Victorious Warrior"; considers it autograph.
Old Master & British Paintings. Sotheby's, London. December 9, 2009, p. 100, under no. 39, relates it to a sketch by Boucher of "Hagar and Ishmael in the Desert".