loading

Le Lord poescourt est venu de Fontainebleau a Paris en une heure, trente neuf minutes le 29 octobre 1754.

(On 29 October 1754, Lord Powerscourt travelled from Fontainebleau to Paris in one hour and thirty-nine minutes.)

Artist or maker:
Saint-Aubin, Charles-Germain de (b.1721, d.1786)
Date:
1754
The inscription states 1754
Place of Production:
Paris, France
Medium:
graphite, ink and watercolour on paper
Accession number:
675.204
One of a set, see others

Commentary

Brief Description:

A man wearing a cap rides on a brown horse that gallops towards the right, its forelegs raised off the ground and its tail flying out behind. The man leans forward so that his body is flat against the horse’s back. His feet, which rest in stirrups on short straps, are also drawn in close.

A figure with butterfly-like wings stands on a thin cloud hovering above the mounted rider. It appears to move towards the right, and points in that direction. The figure is naked except for a drape that hangs over its left shoulder, crossing its body and flowing out behind it.

A signpost runs up the left-hand edge of the page. One bar points away from the picture plane towards the right and the other, on which the words "Routte de fontainebleau" have been written, points towards the right.

Curatorial Commentary

Richard Wingfield, Viscount Powerscourt, was a wealthy English gentleman who, visiting France as a young man in 1754, cut a swathe through court and city. Involved with dancers at the opera, he was also received at court, and made a wager that he could ride between Fontainebleau and Paris in less than two hours using three horses along the way. The duc d’Orléans was said to have bet 100 louis against him, as Powerscourt sought to raise a full thousand livres.

The ride took place, as Charles-Germain de Saint-Aubin’s caption states, on 29 October 1754. According to the courtier and diarist, the duc de Luynes, who witnessed the ride from a hillock at Chailly, the ride was watched by over 20,000 people, and took one hour thirty-eight minutes. Powerscourt thus won his bet, beating the target time by twenty-two minutes. (De Luynes, xiii 1863, pp.380-3). Dufort de Cheverny noted that the viscount had his watch strapped to his left arm so that he could keep an eye on his time (Dufort de Cheverny, i, 1886, p. 165).

Charles-Germain’s brother, Gabriel de Saint-Aubin, also depicted Powerscourt's ride in a marginal sketch at the bottom-right corner of his etching and drypoint, 'The Four Vases' in 1754 (reproduced and discussed in “Gabriel de Saint-Aubin”, 2007, pp.138-9). As in this depiction of the race, a winged figure can be seen on a cloud above Powerscourt, pointing and running in the direction of travel. It is not clear which brother influenced which or if both drew on a common source.

Powerscourt was a scion of the immensely powerful Wingfield family, a major influence in Irish affairs from the sixteenth century onwards. After marrying in 1760, he represented the borough of Stockbridge in the House of Commons and also became a minor pastellist.

Physical description

Dimensions (mm):
187 x 132
Inscriptions:
Routte de fontainebleau
Inscription
Inscribed by Charles-Germain de Saint-Aubin, on signpost, in ink; the inscription has been written over the same inscription in graphite.

Le Lord poescourt est venu de Fontainebleau a paris en / une heure, trente neuf minutes le 29 octobre 1754. il / na monté que deux chevaux.
Inscription
Inscribed by Charles-Germain de Saint-Aubin, below image, in ink; the inscription has been written over the same inscription in graphite.

204
Pagination
Top left corner, in ink
Translation of inscription
The Fontainebleau road
On 29 October 1754, Lord Powerscourt travelled from Fontainebleau to Paris in one hour and thirty-nine minutes. He only used two horses
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:

Kim de Beaumont; The Saint-Aubins sketching for fun and profit; Colin Jones, Juliet Carey, Emily Richardson, The Saint-Aubin Livre de caricatures: drawing satire in eighteenth-century Paris, Oxford, SVEC, 2012; 67-92; pp. 83-84, fig. 3.7

Related literature

Charles-Phillippe d'Albert de Luynes; Mémoires du duc de Luynes sur la cour de Louis XV (1735-1758); Paris; Firmin-Didot et Cie; 1860-1865. vol. xiii, pp.380-3
Jean-Nicolas Dufort de Cheverny; Mémoires sur les règnes de Louis XV et Louis XVI, et sur la Révolution; Paris; E. Plon et Cie.; 1886. vol. i, p. 165
Colin B. Bailey; Gabriel de Saint-Aubin (1724-1780); The Frick Collection, New York, 30 October 2007-27 January 2008, musée du Louvre, Paris, 28 February-26 May 2008; New York; The Frick Collection; 2007. ex. cat. no. 14, 'The Four Vases', p. 319

Indexed terms