Acte 2e, l'Amour fait bien des duppes.

(Second act. Love makes many a dupe.)

Artist or maker:
Saint-Aubin, Charles-Germain de (b.1721, d.1786)
The drawing is closely paired with the 1764 drawing on the facing page
Place of Production:
Paris, France
watercolour, ink and graphite on paper
Accession number:
One of a set, see others


Brief Description:

Three figures - a man, a woman, and a bear stand against a theatrical backdrop depicting an exotic landscape. To the left is an obelisk, behind which rises a palm tree and other foliage. On the right is an engrailed turret of a partially derelict castle. Mountains are visible in the background.

The man, who is the central figure of the three, is dressed in dark-coloured knee-breeches, a jacket with a lace colour and slashed sleeves, and a cape. He holds a thin cane and a pink ribbon in his right hand. The ribbon, which unfurls on the ground, is tied around the neck of a bear in a bow. The bear, which reclines on one elbow, is located to the left. It holds a small pink purse aloft in its paw. On the far right of the page is a woman wearing a yellow dress with a hooped skirt decorated with floral motifs. She wears a two-strand necklace - one tight about her neck, the other resting on her décolletage - and a night-cap styled hat. A small tassel dangles from its end. A small bag hangs on a strap at her side. The woman holds the man's left hand, palm up, in hers and appears to speak to him. He bends his head towards her, his eyes lowered.

Curatorial Commentary

This drawing is paired with that on the facing page (675.222). They appear to refer to a play entitled “La Graine de Niais”, although no play with this title has been traced. A “graine de niais” is a product that is claimed to be miraculous in its effects, but which in fact could only fool the simple-minded. The link to 675.222 is thus through image and theme.

Given the hostility towards the composer Jean-Philippe Rameau that Charles-Germain de Saint-Aubin displays throughout the “Livre de Caricatures”, it is tempting to believe that his “pastorale-héroique”, “Nais” might be evoked here. (It is also worth noting that in 1724 Rameau had written music for the piano entitled “Les Niais de Sologne”). First played in 1749 as a belated celebration of the 1748 Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, “Nais” was reprised in August 1764, which fits with the date given in the drawing. However, the topic of Rameau’s opera in no way resembles the images here and on the facing page (675.223).

Mark Ledbury notes that one play which featured a bear was Jean-Siméon Favart’s 1756 “opéra comique”, “La Bohémienne”, a two-act translation of the Italian comic opera “La Zingara”. The bohemian disguises, the settings and the play with the “bourse” here and in the image on the facing page (675.222) suggest a link to that drama. However, its performance history does not seem to include a Parisian performance in 1764, though the Favart version was performed regularly in the provinces and in Brussels in the 1760s. (Ledbury, 2012) Ledbury suggests that a more convincing link is to the one-act “opéra-comique”, “Les Deux Chasseurs et la Laitière” (‘The Two Hunters and the Milkmaid’) created by Louis Anseaume and Egidio Duni which opened at the Théâtre de l’Hôtel de Bourgogne in July 1763. (Ledbury, 2012). It then showed in Saint-Petersburg and Brussels before returning to the same location in 1765, 1766 and 1769. The plot revolves around two hunters promising the eponymous milkmaid a bear skin taken from a quarry they have yet to encounter (and indeed in the play never do). Theatre critics expressed regret that the play did not have a happy ending – and it would seem that in the image at 675.222, Charles-Germain might be imagining one.

Although “Les Deux Chasseurs et la Laitière” only had one act, it was said to be based on two La Fontaine fables. Besides evoking dupery in love (and Charles-Germain’s experiences of this), the reference to dupes could also suggest the naiveté of the audience in wanting a happy ending and that of the reader of the “Livre de Caricatures” for believing a bear could ever be a performer.

Physical description

Dimensions (mm):
187 x 132
Acte 2e, l'Amour fait bien des duppes.
Inscribed by Charles-Germain de Saint-Aubin, below image, in ink. The 'e' of 2e is in superscript.

Ma Maitresse en sait quelque chose.
Inscribed by Charles-Germain de Saint-Aubin, below first inscription, in ink

Top right corner, in ink; last digit truncated by page's edge.

Top right corner, in ink.
Translation of inscription
Second Act. Love makes many a dupe.
My mistress knows about that
Pentimenti, around obelisk and tower, in graphite


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



Mark Ledbury; Theatrical Life; Colin Jones, Juliet Carey, Emily Richardson, The Saint-Aubin Livre de caricatures: drawing satire in eighteenth-century Paris, Oxford, SVEC, 2012; 193-214; pp. 210, 212, fig. 8.16

Related literature

Louis Anseaume; Les deux chasseurs et la laitière: comédie en un acte, melée d'ariettes; Paris; Veuve Duchesne; active c 1775; 1763
Jean-Philippe Rameau, C. Saint-Saëns; Œvres complètes; New York; Broude; 1968
Mark Ledbury; Theatrical Life; Colin Jones, Juliet Carey, Emily Richardson, The Saint-Aubin Livre de caricatures: drawing satire in eighteenth-century Paris, Oxford, SVEC, 2012; 193-214

Indexed terms