Pierre Didot l'ainé's project to revive the art of fine book publishing in the years following the Revolution provided welcome income for a number of David's students. Some of the greatest examples of French Neoclassical book illustration were the result of these ambitious undertakings, most notably the designs for the 1798 edition of Virgil, based on drawings supplied by Girodet and François Gérard.
This drawing for Book Eleven of The Aeneid features Aeneas and Iulus mourning Pallas, who had been killed in battle by the Rutilian king Turnus. The elderly Acoetës, who had once served Pallas' father Evander, grieves over the dead body, while Aeneas comforts his son Iulus in the foreground. Inscribed below the image, in Latin, is Aeneas' lament, "Alas! How great a protection is lost to thee, Ausonia [Italy], and what a loss to thee, Iulus!"
Responding to the restricted format of book illustration, Girodet reduced Virgil's cast of characters to four, standing for youth, maturity, old age, and death. Pallas' corpse is bathed in ethereal moonlight--an effect for which Girodet had a life-long affection.
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Title:The Mourning of Pallas
Artist:Anne Louis Girodet-Trioson (French, Montargis 1767–1824 Paris)
Medium:Pen and brown ink, brush and gray and brown wash, heightened with white
Dimensions:8 7/16 x 6 1/2 in. (21.5 x 16.5 cm)
Credit Line:The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1996
Inscription: Lower left, graphite: "Girodet inv."; lower center, brown ink: ". . . . HEI MIHI! QVANTVM PRAESIDIVM AVSONIA ET QVANTVM TV PERDIS, IVLE!"; and in graphite at lower right: "Eneide Liv. XI"
Pierre Didot l'ainé (French); Firmin Didot (French)offered at his sale, 1810 (Catalogue des livres. . . .lot 488) but failed to meet its reserve, about 1814; Coutant-Schubert collection; Pascal Berquat , sale, Marseille, September 29, 1996, lot 153; Vendor: Katrin Bellinger Kunsthandel , Munich
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," April 11–June 25, 2000.
Paris. Musée du Louvre. "Girodet: 1767–1824," September 22, 2005–January 2, 2006.
Art Institute of Chicago. "Girodet: 1767–1824," February 11–April 30, 2006.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Girodet: Romantic Rebel," May 24–August 27, 2006.
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. "Girodet: 1767–1824," October 12, 2006–January 21, 2007.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," January 11–April 11, 2010.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "In the Orbit of Jacques Louis David: Selections from the Department of Drawings and Prints," January 20–May 31, 2022.
Alastair Laing "New York French eighteenth-century drawings." Burlington Magazine. vol. 141, no. 1155, London, June 1999, p. 379.
Carmen C. Bambach, Colta Ives, Perrin Stein, Nadine Orenstein "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 1998-1999." in The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, vol. 57, no. 2, Autumn 1999, p. 39, ill.
Perrin Stein, Mary Tavener Holmes Eighteenth-Century French Drawings in New York Collections Exh. cat. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1999, cat. no. 91, pp. 210-213, ill.
Sylvain Bellenger Girodet (1767-1824). Exh. cat., Musée du Louvre, Paris, Sept. 22, 2005-Jan. 2, 2006 ; Art Institute of Chicago, Feb. 11-Apr. 30, 2006 ; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, May 22-Aug. 27, 2006 ; Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal, Oct. 12, 2006-Jan. 21, 2007. Paris, 2006, cat. no. 107, pp. 437-438, 451, ill.
Sylvain Bellenger Anne-Louis Girodet. Galerie de Bayser, Paris, Cahiers du dessin français, no. 14, 2009, cat. no. 10, p. 13, ill.
Louis-Antoine Prat Le Dessin français au XIXe siècle. Somogy Editions d'Art, Paris, 2011, fig. no. 146, 76-77, ill.
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