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Philippe Mercier, 1689 or 1691–1760

Seated Woman with a Book

Materials & Techniques:
Red chalk and graphite on medium, slightly textured, cream laid paper
Sheet: 12 x 7 7/8 inches (30.5 x 20 cm)

Inscribed on verso in graphite, lower left: "377"; lower right: "D1382"

Collector's mark: Carl Robert Rudolf (Lugt 2811b)

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund, in honor of John Ingamells
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Drawings & Watercolors
Prints and Drawings
Subject Terms:
book | costume | dress | figure study | reading | satin | seated | woman
Accessible by appointment in the Study Room [Request]
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IIIF Manifest:

Drawings by Philippe Mercier are rare; only around sixteen can be securely identified and all of them are compositional studies that relate to surviving paintings. This drawing relates to Mercier’s ambitious and emblematic conversation piece The Shutz Family and their Friends on a Terrace (1725; oil on canvas; Tate Britain). Mercier was born in Berlin to parents of French extraction and trained there under the French painter Antoine Pesne. In 1716 he left the service of Frederick I of Prussia and moved to London where Frederick’s brother, the former Elector of Hanover, now reigned as George I. The Shutz family was typical of Mercier's early patrons in London: German émigrés from Hanover with positions of prominence at the new English court. In this drawing, a preparatory study for the seated woman on the far left of the painting, Mercier focuses on the woman’s dress, exploring especially the play of light across its satin surfaces with the result that the model’s head required only cursory treatment. Like all Mercier’s drawings it is executed principally in red chalk in the manner of Jean Antoine Watteau (1684-1721) an artist close to Pesne and whom Mercier is said to have met in Paris and would have certainly met in London when the ailing Watteau spent a year there from the autumn of 1719 seeking treatment from Dr. Richard Mead. Mercier was influential in disseminating the latest French rococo taste in England, not only publishing a set of etchings after Watteau in 1725 but successfully introducing the fête galante genre to English patrons and adapting its conventions to suit their demand for conversation pieces.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2014

Martin Eidelberg, Philippe Mercier as a Draftsman, Master Drawings, vol. 44, 2006, pp. 422-423, fig. 17, NC1 M37 44 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Elizabeth Einberg, The age of Hogarth, British painters born 1675-1709 , vol. 2, Tate Gallery, London, 1988, p. 174, fig. 46, ND466 T38 1988 + OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

John Ingamells, A Catalogue of the Paintings, Drawings, and Etchings of Philip Mercier, Volume of the Walpole Society, vol. 46, Walpole Society, 1976-8, p. 64, No. 279, pl. 12b, N12 W35 +A1 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

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