The Mourning of Pallas, Anne Louis Girodet-Trioson (French, Montargis 1767–1824 Paris), Pen and brown ink, brush and gray and brown wash, heightened with white

The Mourning of Pallas

Anne Louis Girodet-Trioson (French, Montargis 1767–1824 Paris)
Pen and brown ink, brush and gray and brown wash, heightened with white
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
Accession Number:
Not on view
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 was killed by the Trojans in battle. The elderly Acoetës, who famously warned of the Trojan horse, grieves over the dead body, while Aeneas comforts Pallas' son Iulus in the foreground. Inscribed below the image, in Latin, is Aeneas' exhortation, "Alas! How great a protection is lost to thee, Ausonia [Italy], and how great 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. The depiction of Roman warriors in the work of David and other artists of his circle constituted more than an aesthetic preference, it expressed an identification which extended to realms both political and moral. For Girodet, Virgil's epic story of the founding of the Roman republic provided a natural symbolic association with the founding of the French republic by the heroes and martyrs of the Revolution.

Perrin Stein, May 2014
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
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," April 11, 2000–June 25, 2000.

Musée du Louvre, Paris. "Girodet (1767-1824)," September 22, 2005–January 2, 2006.

Art Institute of Chicago. "Girodet (1767-1824)," February 11, 2006–April 30, 2006.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Girodet (1767-1824)," May 22, 2006–August 27, 2006.

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. "Girodet (1767-1824)," October 12, 2006–January 21, 2007.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," January 11, 2010–April 11, 2010.

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.

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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. Paris, 2011, fig. no. 146, 76-77, ill.