(Paris 1746 - Paris 1816)
Study for a Frontispiece or Monument, with Allegorical Figures Surrounding an Oval Portrait of a Young Woman
Signed with the artist’s monogram LDR and dated 1767 at the lower centre, on the pedestal.
200 x 130 mm. (7 7/8 x 5 1/8 in.)
Drawings which bear a monogram of the three interlaced letters L, D and R have been traditionally thought to be by either the sculptor and engraver Louis-Félix de La Rue (1730-1777) or his elder brother, the painter Philibert-Benoît de La Rue (1718-1780), to whom the present sheet was formerly attributed. A pupil of Charles Parrocel, Philibert-Benoît de La Rue exhibited battle scenes, genre subjects, landscape and portraits at the Salons, and was agrée at the Académie Royale in 1754. Although the drawings of the two brothers have often been confused, an attribution of the present sheet to either Philibert-Benoît or Louis-Félix de La Rue is untenable when compared to autograph works by them. This drawing displays a freedom of line that differs from the more restrained linearity of studies by the De La Rue brothers.
The present sheet may instead be more plausibly attributed to another artist of the period, Claude-Louis Desrais, who employed a similar LDR monogram. In an article published in 1984, Anne Leclair convincingly attributed nine drawings – each signed with a similar monogram LDR and variously dated between 1767 and 1769 – to Desrais, based on a stylistic comparison with a signed drawing of 1769. One of these drawings, an Allegory in Honour of King Stanislas Leczynski in the Art Institute of Chicago, is particularly comparable to the present sheet in subject, style and execution. Both this drawing and that in Chicago may therefore be placed within an early and still relatively obscure period in the career of Claude-Louis Desrais.
Private collection, Middlesex
Thence by descent.