The canvas illustrates a passage from Ludovico Ariosto's (1474–1533) epic poem Orlando Furioso (XIX:36), in which the two lovers engrave their names in the bark of a tree. Because the painting's surface is worn, the letters are no longer visible. In the early 1630s Blanchard decorated the galleries of private houses in Paris with series of narrative painting such as this. The soft lighting and languid nudity suggest the influence of sixteenth-century Venetian painting.
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Title:Angelica and Medoro
Artist:Jacques Blanchard (French, 1600–1638)
Date:possibly early 1630s
Medium:Oil on canvas
Dimensions:With added strip at top 47 7/8 x 69 1/4 in. (121.6 x 175.9 cm)
Credit Line:Gift of George A. Hearn, 1906
?Philippe Vignon, Paris (until d. 1701; posthumous inventory, September 13, 1701: "Item, un tableau original de Blanchard le père représentant Angélique et Médor, de cinq pieds de large sur quatre de haut avec sa bordure dorée, estimé cinquante livres"); ?Edme Bouchardon, Paris (until 1762; sale, Paris, November 1762, no. 13, as "Angélique et Médor," by Blanchard, 3 1/2 x 5 pieds [44 3/4 x 63 3/4 in.]); ?Verrier (until 1776; sale, Paris, November 14, postponed to November 18, 1776, no. 58, as "Angélique et Médor," by Laurent de La Hyre, 4 pieds 4 pouces x 5 pieds 6 pouces [55 1/8 x 70 1/2 in.]); Poullain, Paris (until 1780; sale, Le Brun, Paris, March 15ff., 1780, no. 105, as "Angélique et Médor," for 700 livres to "comte d'Orsé" [sic]); comte d'Orsay, Paris (1780–90; his sale, Basan, Paris, April 14, 1790, no. 2, as "Angélique et Médor," for 200 livres); [T. J. Blakeslee, New York, until 1904; his sale, American Art Association, New York, April 7, 1904, no. 71, as "Venus and Adonis," for $4,900 to Hearn]; George A. Hearn, New York (1904–6)
Paris. Palais National des Arts. "Chefs d'œuvre de l'art français," July–September 1937, no. 62.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Splendid Century, French Art: 1600–1715," March 8–April 30, 1961, suppl. no. 170.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Nudes in Landscapes: Four Centuries of a Tradition," May 18–August 5, 1973, no catalogue.
Paris. Galeries nationales du Grand Palais. "La Peinture française du XVIIe siècle dans les collections américaines," January 29–April 26, 1982, no. 4.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "France in the Golden Age: Seventeenth-century French Paintings in American Collections," May 26–August 22, 1982, no. 4.
Art Institute of Chicago. "France in the Golden Age: Seventeenth-century French Paintings in American Collections," September 18–November 28, 1982, no. 4.
Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rennes. "Jacques Blanchard," March 6–June 8, 1998, no. 57.
Charles Blanc. Le trésor de la curiosité. Vol. 2, Paris, 1858, pp. 14, 126, attributes this painting to Jacques Blanchard.
Charles Blanc. Histoire des peintres de toutes les écoles: École française. Vol. 1, Paris, 1862, ill. p. 55 (engraving by Gagniet and Guillaume).
Louis Demonts. "Deux peintres de la première moitié du XVIIe siècle: Jacques Blanchard et Charles-Alphonse Dufresnoy." Gazette des beaux-arts, 5th ser., 12 (1925), p. 166, ill. opp. p. 164.
Louis Dimier. Histoire de la peinture française du retour de Vouet à la mort de Lebrun, 1627 à 1690. Vol. 1, Paris, 1926, p. 39, pl. XXVIII.
Werner Weisbach. Französische Malerei des XVII. Jahrhunderts. Berlin, 1932, pp. 58, 360 nn. 17, 18, pl. 6, recognizes the subject of the picture and cites the engraving made by Lainé in 1771.
W. R. Valentiner. "Portraits by Jacques Blanchard." Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts 16 (March 1937), p. 101.
Charles Sterling. La peinture française au XVII siècle. 1937, pl. 45.
Charles Sterling inChefs d'œuvre de l'art français. Exh. cat., Palais National des Arts. Paris, 1937, p. 35, no. 62.
Anthony Blunt. Art and Architecture in France, 1500 to 1700. Baltimore, 1953, p. 171, calls it probably earlier than Charity (Duke of Richmond and Gordon collection) and more mannerist, relying on Tintoretto for its composition and on Paul Brill for the handling of the trees.
Emile Dacier. "Catalogues de ventes et livrets de salons illustrés et annotés par Gabriel de Saint-Aubin, 12: Catalogue de la vente Verrier (1776)." Gazette des beaux-arts, 6th ser., 41 (May–June 1953), p. 325, reproduces pages from Saint-Aubin's copy of the catalogue of the Verrier sale, including (p. 314) his thumbnail sketch of no. 58, sold as Angélique & Medor by Laurent de la Hire, the composition of which corresponds closely to that of the MMA picture.
Josephine L. Allen and Elizabeth E. Gardner. A Concise Catalogue of the European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1954, p. 9.
Charles Sterling. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of French Paintings. Vol. 1, XV–XVIII Centuries. Cambridge, Mass., 1955, pp. 63–65, ill., states that the attribution to Blanchard is confirmed by two 18th-century engravings of the picture both bearing his name, one made by Lainé in 1771, the other by Voyez, from 1780; dates it about 1628–30, soon after Blanchard's return from Italy, noting its affinity with the School of Fontainebleau and Venetian art; comments on the physical history of the picture [see Notes] and adds that there is a good 17th-century copy in the collection of the Earl of Mount Edgecumbe in England.
Michael Thomas. "The Problems of the Splendid Century." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 19 (April 1961), p. 227, ill. p. 225.
Charles Sterling. "Les peintres Jean et Jacques Blanchard." Art de France 1 (1961), pp. 89, 110, no. 35, ill., retracts his earlier dating [see Ref. 1955], stating that the decorative character of this picture and of the Louvre's "Venus and the Graces surprised by a Mortal" must have been close to the lost compositions for the galleries of the Barbier and Bullion mansions; on this basis, dates both our picture and the Louvre's around 1631–33.
Albert Châtelet and Jacques Thuillier. French Painting from Fouquet to Poussin. Geneva, 1963, p. 206, ill. p. 204.
Georg Poensgen. "Herkules und Omphale: Zu einem neu erworbenen Gemälde des Kurpfälzischen Museums." Bibliotheca docet: Festgabe für Carl Wehmer. Ed. Siegfried Joost. Amsterdam, 1963, fig. 2 [see Ref. Thuillier 1998].
Guillaume Janneau. La peinture française au XVIIe siècle. Geneva, 1965, pp. 54, 400 n. 363.
Margaretta M. Salinger. French Painting: The Seventeenth Century. New York, 1965, pp. 16, 35, no. 2, ill. (color slide in folder attached to front cover), notes that both the subject matter and style of this picture originate in Italy, where Blanchard went to study art; mentions that the replica in England [collection of the Earl of Mount Edgecumbe] has an inscription on the tree trunk, showing the first letters of the name Medor, which confirms the identification of the subject.
François Gebelin. L'époque Henri IV et Louis XIII. Paris, 1969, p. 84, pl. 29.
A. Pigler. Barockthemen: Eine Auswahl von Verzeichnissen zur Ikonographie des 17. und 18. Jahrhunderts. 2nd ed. [first ed. 1956]. Budapest, 1974, vol. 2, p. 464, includes it in a list of works illustrating the story of Angelica and Medoro.
Rensselaer W. Lee. Names on Trees: Ariosto into Art. Princeton, 1977, pp. 46–47, ill.
Arnauld Brejon de Lavergnée and Bernard Dorival. Baroque et classicisme au XVIIe siècle en Italie et en France. Geneva, 1979, p. 225.
Howard Hibbard. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1980, pp. 311, 324, fig. 555 (color).
Pierre Rosenberg. "France in the Golden Age: A Postscript." Metropolitan Museum Journal 17 (1982), p. 25 n. 11, p. 26, no. 4, notes that another copy of this picture has appeared, in a private collection in Lebanon.
Pierre Rosenberg. France in the Golden Age: Seventeenth-century French Paintings in American Collections. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1982, pp. 27, 104, 223–24, 345, no. 4, ill. pp. 110, 224 [French ed., La peinture française du XVIIe siècle dans les collections américaines, Paris], dates the picture about 1634–35 and tentatively proposes that it was in the collections of the sculptor Edme Bouchardon and of Verrier.
Christopher Wright. The French Painters of the Seventeenth Century. Boston, 1985, p. 144.
Michel Hilaire inGrand siècle: Peintures françaises du XVIIe siècle dans les collections publiques françaises. Exh. cat., Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal. Paris, 1993, p. 206 [see Ref. Thuillier 1998].
Alain Mérot. La peinture française au XVIIe siècle. Paris, 1994, p. 98.
Katharine Baetjer. European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Artists Born Before 1865: A Summary Catalogue. New York, 1995, p. 362, ill.
Jacques Thuillier. Jacques Blanchard, 1600–1638. Exh. cat., Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rennes. Rennes, 1998, pp. 189–93, no. 57, ill. in color (overall and detail), suggests this could be the picture of Angelica and Medoro by Blanchard listed in the posthumous inventory of Philippe Vignon in 1701 [see ex coll.].
Importanti dipinti di antichi maestri. San Marco, Venice. March 25, 2006, p. 190, under no.62, in relation to the replica offered for sale, remarks that "the pictorial surface [of the MMA work]] is worn-out".
Guillaume Kazerouni. Jacques Blanchard, au musée des Beaux-Arts de Rennes. Rennes, 2015, p. 16, fig. 4 (color, installation photograph from 1998 exhibition).
Diana J. Kostyrko. The Journal of a Transatlantic Art Dealer: René Gimpel 1918–1939. London, 2017, p. 148 n. 14.
At some time after the 1790 sale of the Orsay collection (see Provenance), the picture was enlarged by adding a strip at the top.
This picture was formerly thought to represent Venus and Adonis and was exhibited as such by The Met. It, however, illustrates a passage from Ariosto's Orlando Furioso (canto XIX, v. 36) that tells how the lovers Angelica and Medoro engraved their names on the bark of an oak. An inscription showing the first letters of Medoro's name disappeared during the removal of old restorations in 1930, but the name can still be seen in a good seventeenth-century copy in the collection of the Earl of Mount Edgecumbe in England (exhibited at the Royal Academy, London, 1938, Old Masters Exhibition, Souvenir Cat., ill. p. 79). The attribution of The Met's picture to Blanchard is confirmed by three eighteenth-century engravings after it, each bearing Blanchard's name: one by Lainé of 1771, one by Voyez of 1780, and one by Louis Le Grand of 1781 (example in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris).
The replica belonging to the Earl of Mount Edgecumbe, Mount Edgecumbe, Plymouth, was sold at Christie's, London, on June 27, 1958, no. 51 (44 x 64 in) as by Blanchard. Another replica, also ascribed to Blanchard, measuring 112 x 165.5 cm (44 1/4 x 65 in.), but not identifiable with the example from the Edgecumbe collection, was sold at San Marco, Venice, July 9, 2006, as no. 62.
Rosenberg (Journal, 1982) mentions a copy in a private collection in Lebanon. A replica measuring 107 x 157 cm (42 1/8 x 61 13/16 in.) was sold by Etude Tajan, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, June 28, 1996, no. 91; presumably the same picture was sold again by Lombrail/Teucquam at Hôtel Drouot, September 28, 1999, no. 149 (107 x 156 cm).
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