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Pour mêller notre marchandise, il faut que l'un des deux quitte sa fontaine

(To mix our wares, one of us must leave our drinks fountain)

Attributed to:
Saint-Aubin, Charles-Germain de (b.1721, d.1786)
Attributed to Style A
Date:
c 1740-1775 {nd}
Place of Production:
Paris, France
Medium:
watercolour, ink and graphite on paper
Accession number:
675.4
One of a set, see others

Commentary

Brief Description:

A colourfully dressed young man stands at the centre of the page. His body is angled towards the right. He is elegantly posed with his weight resting on his left leg while his right is extended behind him and slightly to the side with its foot pointed. The man holds a glass of red wine between his right thumb and index finger and reaches out his left arm. A yellow drinks canteen with a grey lid is strapped to his back. A tap on a long stem emerges from beneath his left arm. A bottle or flask hangs on a cord at his side.

The man is dressed in a green short-sleeved jacket which flares out at the waist. Its red skirt, which stops above the knee, is trimmed in yellow and is partially covered by a white lace-edged apron. The red and yellow striped sleeves of an undergarment emerge from beneath the short scallop-edged sleeves of his jacket. There is a red bow at his neck. He wears green breeches with blue and red ribbons at the knee, red stockings and yellow shoes with blue bows. His hat has an upturned brim with a crenellated edge and is surmounted by bushy red, yellow and white plumes.

Plants grow from the patch of land on which the figure is stands.

Curatorial Commentary

The theatrically-dressed drinks vendor gestures towards the woman on the facing page (675.5), with whom he appears to be in friendly dialogue. The two facing drawings recall several other paired figures found early on in the “Livre de Caricatures”, which depict theatrical types similarly engaged in conversation (e.g. 675.30-675.31, 675.54-675.55).

The figures at 675.4 and 675.5 recall the traditional representation of the “cris de Paris”, a popular pictorial genre dating back to the Renaissance, representing Paris street traders hawking their wares. They range from cheap, crude woodcuts mass produced for a popular audience, to lavish and refined suites of engravings destined for the portfolios of wealthy connoisseurs (Milliot, 1995). Several prominent eighteenth-century French artists including Boucher and Bouchardon engaged with the tradition, as did Charles-Germain de Saint-Aubin’s younger brother Augustin, and interest in them was also shown by the comte de Caylus, who was personally known to the Saint-Aubins. A good number of “cris de Paris” type drawings can be found in the “Livre de Caricatures” (e.g. 675.24, 675.123, 675.140). Charles-Germain’s approach to the genre tends towards the lightly comic and the theatrical, as befits the general tone of book.

This drawing is in Style A, attributed to the principal author of the “Livre de Caricatures”, Charles-Germain de Saint-Aubin. Style A displays a childish and naïve aesthetic and sometimes subject matter, and is characterised by crispness of execution, clear outlines and smooth application of colour. It is dominant in the early part of the book, from 675.3 to around 675.160. The opening inscription (675.1a) claims that the book was acquired from booksellers on the Paris quays in 1740 already containing drawings in another hand. The inscription states that ‘my friends put captions [underneath the drawings] and got me to continue this miscellany of follies’ (“mes amis y mirent des légendes et m’engagerent à continuer ce melange de folies”). This may be a tall story, explicable by Charles-Germain’s reluctance to admit authorship of the work. Charles-Germain was a versatile artist, and the possibility that he was responsible for the entire process in these initial drawings cannot be ruled out. In the drawings in the book not in Style A, Charles-Germain first made graphite sketches in much the same way. However it is possible that in the sections of the book dominated by Style A, Charles-Germain confined himself to working up existing graphite drawings, as well as adding details and also, with his friends’ assistance as he describes, the captions.

Physical description

Dimensions (mm):
187 x 132
Inscriptions:
Pour mêller notre marchandise, il faut que / l'un des deux quitte sa fontaine
Inscription
Inscribed by Charles-Germain de Saint-Aubin, below image, in ink

4
Pagination
Top left corner, in ink
Translation of inscription
To mix our wares, one of us must leave our drinks fountain
Language:
French

History

Part of:
Livre de Caricatures tant bonnes que mauvaises. 675.1-389
Collection:
Waddesdon, The Rothschild Collection (The National Trust)
Bequest of James de Rothschild, 1957

Bibliography

Bibliography:

Colin Jones, Emily Richardson; Archaeology and materiality; Colin Jones, Juliet Carey, Emily Richardson, The Saint-Aubin Livre de caricatures: drawing satire in eighteenth-century Paris, Oxford, SVEC, 2012; 31-53; p. 42

Related literature

Robert Massin; Les cris de la ville: Commerces ambulants et petits métiers de la rue; Paris; Éditions Gallimard; 1985
Vincent Milliot, Le travail sans le geste. Les représentations iconographiques des petits métiers parisiens (XVI-XVIIIe s.), Revue d'histoire moderne et contemporaine, xli, January 1994, 5-28
Vincent Milliot; Les Cris de Paris: les représentations des petits métiers parisiens (XVIe-XVIIIe siècles); Paris; Publications de la Sorbonne; 1995

Indexed terms