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Creator:
Louis Laguerre, 1663–1721
Title:

The Rape of Proserpine, design for the staircase of Devonshire House, London

Date:
ca. 1704
Materials & Techniques:
Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
42 1/8 x 30 inches (107 x 76.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
B1976.7.50
Classification:
Paintings
Collection:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
architectural subject | architecture | chariot | cherubs | clouds | columns (architectural elements) | costume | design | horses (animals) | illusion | men | mythology | religious and mythological subject | staircase | women
Access:
Not on view
Link:
https://collections.britishart.yale.edu/catalog/tms:285
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Louis Laguerre, a French painter who worked with Charles Le Brun at Versailles, moved to London in about 1684 and soon enjoyed the patronage of the most exalted families in Britain, including the Cavendish family. This sketch is an unexecuted proposal for decorating a staircase in the London town house (since demolished) of the first Duke of Devonshire, William Cavendish. The walls, imagined as a fictive tapestry, represent Proserpine’s (Persephone’s) abduction by Pluto, the god of the underworld, while a feast of the gods fills the ceiling. Illusionistic murals were the preeminent form of history painting at the turn of the eighteenth century, decorating interior spaces in the homes of the elite, in London town houses and country estates alike.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2016



The French-born Laguerre trained at the Paris Académie but moved to London in 1684 as assistant to the Italian decorative painter Antonio Verrio. Laguerre soon established himself as an independent artist and enjoyed the patronage of the most exalted families in Britain, including the Cavendish family. William Cavendish, Duke of Devonshire, employed Laguerre extensively in the 1690s at Chatsworth House, and this design for a staircase was intended for the family's London residence, Devonshire House. Here Hades is shown abducting Persephone and carrying her away on his chariot, the scene being conceived by Laguerre as a fictive tapestry suspended from a classical entablature.

Gallery label for Connections (Yale Center for British Art, 2011-05-26 - 2011-09-11)

Connections (Yale Center for British Art, 2011-05-26 - 2011-09-11) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Malcolm Cormack, Concise Catalogue of Paintings in the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1985, pp. 136-137, N590.2 A83 (YCBA) [YCBA]


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