Ny Germain, ny messonier, ny gerard, ny Babel, ny moy.

(Neither Germain, nor Messonier, nor Gerard, nor Babel or me.)

Artist or maker:
Saint-Aubin, Charles-Germain de (b.1721, d.1786)
c 1740-c 1775 {nd}
Place of Production:
Paris, France
ink and graphite on paper
Accession number:
One of a set, see others


Brief Description:

A sculpted acanthus leaf with a scrolled base and beading along its central axis.

Curatorial Commentary

Charles-Germain de Saint-Aubin’s inscription teasingly disowns authorship of this drawing on his own behalf and on behalf of a number of his peers. ‘Germain’ may be François-Thomas Germain, a celebrated goldsmith with a huge clientele at court and among the high aristocracy. He lived the high-life, however, and declared for bankruptcy in 1765, spending time in England before returning quietly to France in 1772. ‘Messonier’ must signify Juste-Aurèle Meissonnier, the Italian architect, painter and sculptor, who became Louis XV’s “dessinateur du cabinet” and “orfèvre du roi” and who authored several books with engravings of ornamental designs. One, “Ornements de la carte chronologique du roi” (1733), was engraved by several hands including Babel, also referred to here. Paul-Émile Babel was an engraver, well connected at court. The identity of Gérard is not clear; a number of painters and skilled artisans of this name flourished in Paris at this time.

Collections of ornamental engravings were one of the means by which the rococo style was popularised in the middle decades of the eighteenth century, and these individuals – whose work is closely allied to Charles-Germain, “dessinateur du roi” – appear to be representative figures from that world.

Physical description

Dimensions (mm):
187 x 132
Ny Germain, ny messonier, ny gerard, ny Babel, ny moy.
Inscribed by Charles-Germain de Saint-Aubin, below image, in ink

Top left corner, in ink
Translation of inscription
Neither Germain, nor Messonier, nor Gerard, nor Babel nor me.


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



Colin Jones, Juliet Carey; Introduction; Colin Jones, Juliet Carey, Emily Richardson, The Saint-Aubin Livre de caricatures: drawing satire in eighteenth-century Paris, Oxford, SVEC, 2012; 1-27; p. 21n

Related literature

Juste-Aurèle Meissonier; Ornements de la carte chronologique; 1733
Juste-Aurèle Meissonier; Œuvre de Juste-Aurèle Meissonnier; Paris; 1888
Christiane Perrin; François Thomas Germain: orfévre des Roi; Editions d'Art Monelle Hayot; 1993
Michael Snodin, Maurice Howard; Ornament: A Social History since 1450; New Haven, London; Yale University Press; 1996
Peter Fuhring; Juste-Aurèle Meissonnier: Un génie du rococo 1695-1750; Turin; Umberto Allemandi & C.; 1999

Indexed terms