Pierre Louis Dumesnil the Younger (French, Paris 1698–1781 Paris)
Oil on canvas
31 1/8 x 38 3/4 in. (79.1 x 98.4 cm)
Bequest of Harry G. Sperling, 1971
Not on view
The theatrical effect created by the firelight and candles is typical of the work of Dumesnil, who was professor and rector of the Académie de Saint-Luc and exhibited genre scenes there from 1751 until 1774.
Pierre Louis Dumesnil the Younger was born into a family of painters. Other than a voyage to Bordeaux between 1756 and 1759, most of his career was spent in Paris, where he was first professor and then rector at the Académie de Saint-Luc. Between 1751 and 1774 Dumesnil exhibited a variety of works there, from studies to religious subjects. However, he was primarily a painter of genre scenes and the domestic interior he shows us in Card Players in a Drawing Room is typical of his style.
The figures in this drawing room have a slightly naïve quality. They are lit by candles, and their reflected glow allows Dumesnil to play with the fall of light and shadow. The painting is full of narrative detail, from the servant stoking the fire to the dog at lower right barking at the cat on the back of the chair. As well as the card game, a more private, tactile conversation takes place between the figures on the sofa, one of whom is depicted in almost exactly the same pose in the portrait above him. The awkward perspective is characteristic of Dumesnil's interiors, where the inclusion of the ceiling suggests that the viewer is both inside the room and looking down into it. This work may have been painted while he was exhibiting genre scenes with similar subjects at the Académie de Saint-Luc.
[Francesca Whitlum-Cooper 2010; updated by Katharine Baetjer 2015]
[Duits, London, until 1961; sold for $10,000 to Kleinberger]; [Kleinberger, New York, 1961–75; bequeathed by Harry G. Sperling, last surviving partner of firm, to MMA]
Hartford. Wadsworth Atheneum. "Let There Be Light," March 11–April 26, 1964, no. 212 (as by Jean François de Troy, lent by F. Kleinberger & Co., Inc.).
San Francisco. M. H. de Young Memorial Museum. "Man, Glory, Jest, and Riddle," November 10, 1964–January 3, 1965, no. 170 (as by Jean François de Troy, lent by F. Kleinberger & Co., New York).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Eighteenth-Century Woman," December 12, 1981–September 5, 1982, unnumbered cat. (p. 51).
Atlanta. High Museum of Art. "The Rococo Age: French Masterpieces of the Eighteenth Century," October 5–December 31, 1983, no. 55.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "All That Glitters Is Not Gold: The Art, Form, and Function of Gilt Bronze in the French Interior," July 26, 2004–February 20, 2005, no catalogue.
Los Angeles. J. Paul Getty Museum. "Paris: Life & Luxury," April 26–August 7, 2011, no. 87.
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. "Paris: Life & Luxury," September 18, 2011–January 1, 2012, no. 87.
Château de Versailles, Blackwall Green Ltd. "Fêtes et divertissements à la cour," November 29, 2016–March 26, 2017, no. 258.
Eric M. Zafran. The Rococo Age: French Masterpieces of the Eighteenth Century. Exh. cat., High Museum of Art. Atlanta, 1983, p. 119, no. 55, ill. p. 108 (color).
Joseph Baillio. "French Rococo Painting: A Notable Exhibition in Atlanta." Apollo 119 (January 1984), p. 21, fig. 10.
Daniëlle O. Kisluk-Grosheide inThe Wrightsman Galleries for French Decorative Arts: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2010, p. 149, fig. 49 (color).
Kira d' Alburquerque, Emily Beeny, and Grace Chuang inParis: Life & Luxury in the Eighteenth Century. Ed. Charissa Bremer-David. Exh. cat., J. Paul Getty Museum. Los Angeles, 2011, p. 130, no. 87.
Mimi Hellman inParis: Life & Luxury in the Eighteenth Century. Ed. Charissa Bremer-David. Exh. cat., J. Paul Getty Museum. Los Angeles, 2011, p. 102, fig. 60 (color).
Thibault Billoir inFêtes & divertissements à la cour. Ed. Elisabeth Caude, Jérôme de La Gorce, and Béatrix Saule. Exh. cat., Château de Versailles. Versailles, 2016, p. 262, no. 258.
Thibault Billoir and Elisabeth Caude inFêtes & divertissements à la cour. Ed. Elisabeth Caude, Jérôme de La Gorce, and Béatrix Saule. Exh. cat., Château de Versailles. Versailles, 2016, pp. 244–45, ill. (color).