Comedy and Tragedy

Anne Louis Girodet-Trioson French

Not on view

After his coronation in 1804, Napoleon remodeled former royal residences all across France. He commissioned Girodet to rework the apartments at the Château de Compiègne. This drawing is for a border of the library ceiling. It incorporates major figures of French literature—Molière, Racine, and Corneille—as stone busts in whimsical juxtaposition to the Greek muses of comedy (Thalia) and tragedy (Melpomene), envisioned as children to align this scene with the rest of the design, which presents pairs of allegorical putti. The sinuous outline and subtle modeling of Girodet’s distinctive technique in black chalk produce a trompe l’oeil effect suggesting marble statuary.

Comedy and Tragedy, Anne Louis Girodet-Trioson (French, Montargis 1767–1824 Paris), Black chalk and stumping

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