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Hubert-François Gravelot, 1699–1773, French, active in Britain (1733–45)

Drawing for a Frontispiece: "The Toast"

Pen and black ink, pen and brown ink, and gray wash on medium, modertately textured, beige laid paper mounted on thick, slightly textured, cream wove paper
Sheet: 8 3/8 x 5 5/8 inches (21.3 x 14.3 cm) and Mount: 11 1/4 × 8 5/8 inches (28.6 × 21.9 cm)

Watermarks: IIK (letters)

Signed and dated in black ink, lower right: "Hubert f. Gravelot inv. and delint. Londini. 1735"

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Drawings & Watercolors
Prints and Drawings
Subject Terms:
books | clouds | coat | dress (in general) | fan (costume accessory) | forest | frontispiece (illustration) | genre subject | horns | illusion, optical | lyre | mirror | nobleman | papers (document genres) | reflection | sandals | The Toast: An Heroick Poem in Four Books (1736) | trees
Associated People:
Brudenell (nee Savile), Lady Frances, (d. 1695)
Accessible by request in the Study Room [Request]
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After studying with the history painter Jean Restout and working in the studio of François Boucher in Paris, Gravelot responded to an invitation from the French engraver Claude de Bosc, who was working in London and needed an assistant. Gravelot traveled to England in 1732 or 1733, remaining there until 1745, when anti-French sentiment precipitated his return home. Writing shortly after Gravelot's return to Paris, George Vertue noted that the Frenchman had gained the "reputation" of a most ingenious draughtsman during the time he has been in London." He had in fact played a key role in the introduction of elements of rococo style into England and had significantly advanced the art of British book illustration.

During his years in London, Gravelot illustrated over fifty books. This drawing was engraved by Bernard Baron as the frontpiece for William King's The Toast: An Heroick Poem in Four Books, privately published in 1736. One of the targets of King's satirical poems was Frances Brudenell, Countess of Newburgh, the subject of the adoring poem Myra by Goerge Granville, Baron Landsdowne. In Gravelot's illustration Granville shows off a portrait of a beautiful Myra to Apollo, while a satyr delights in the discrepancy between the painted image and the actual appearance of the sitter, to whom he points. Gravelot's composition does not illustrate a particular scene from King's poem but echoes its attack on Granville and Brudenell. Gravelot's elegant draftsmanship in no way vitiates the bite of the satire.

Scott Wilcox

Wilcox, Forrester, O'Neil, Sloan. The Line of Beauty: British Drawings and Watercolors of the Eighteenth Century. Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 2001, pg. 40 cat. no. 29

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