JEAN LE PAUTRE (1618 – 1682): two prints in honor of Louis XIV: an obelisk and a triumphal arch

Two etchings. Obelisk: Obelisque dans la place Dauphine, C. le Brun jnu, le Paultre sculpsit. Dimensions 43 x 20 cm (plate), 60 x 36 cm (frame). Triumphal arch: Arc de Triomphe du Carefour de la Fontaine sainct Gervais, le Paultre sculpsit, A Paris chez van Merlen, rue St Iacques a la ville d’Anvers. Dimensions 38 x 25 cm (plate), 55 x 41 cm (frame). Both etchings derive from J. Troncon, L'entrée triomphante de leurs Majestez Louis XIV, Paris 1662. Price € 650.

This duo of very decorative prints is of great historical importance for two reasons. In the first place, it is through these types of prints by Le Pautre that the "Louis XIV style" spread throughout Europe in the seventeenth century. Second, they record a tradition of setting up temporary triumphal arch constructions as festive decorations for celebrations of national importance. The most important architects and decorators were employed: in this case Charles le Brun. French court history, graphic art, decorative art and even theater art integrate in these prints in a fascinating way.

Jean le Pautre (1618-1682, also written as Le Paultre or Le Pôtre) is considered one of the most important ornamentalists. Le Pautre started his career working with the architect and furniture maker Adam Philippon (1606 -?), for whom he designed ornaments. Le Pautre visited Rome together with Philippon. He devoted himself to graphic art and would manufacture over 1500 prints of architecture, furniture, friezes, ceiling vases and the most diverse ornaments. Most of his oeuvre consists of his own compositions. His collections in the field of decorative art represent what was later to be called the Louis XIV style. Through the prints of Le Pautre, the Louis XIV style was distributed throughout Europe.

The two framed prints offered here by Ars Decora are so-called festivity decorations. The first concerns an obelisk that was erected by Charles le Brun (1619-1690), the famous court painter of Louis XIV. The erection of obelisks or triumphal arches is a tradition that reaches way back to the Romans. A festive decoration like this was in fact a huge painterly illusion (trompe-l'oeuil). This obelisk was erected on the Place Dauphine in Paris with a view on the equestrian statue of Henri IV, on the occasion of the triumphal entry of Louis XIV, the Sun King, and his wife Maria Theresa of Spain in 1662. The obelisk is a praise to the royal couple. The second festivity decoration is described in the print itself as 'Arc de Triomphe du Carefour de la Fontaine sainct Gervais'. This remarkable but beautifully designed triumphal arch represents the mountain Parnassus with, of course, Apollo in a leading role. Two putti in the middle support a medallion on which both spouses of royal blood are depicted in profile. The persons depicted were in reality people of flesh and blood who together formed a so-called 'tableau vivant'.

It is plausible that Le Pautre produced the prints commissioned by Le Brun, in order to record his (temporary, in essence) masterpieces. Both prints are in excellent condition, free of any discoloration or damage.

Le Pautre Arc en Obelisque 124-1

Le Pautre Arc de Triomphe 124-2

Le Pautre Arc de Triomphe 124-3

Le Pautre Arc de Triomphe 124-4

Le Pautre Obelisque 124-5

Le Pautre Obelisque 124-6