There are multiple pleasures in visiting The Frick Collection’s new exhibit of drawings, etchings and paintings by Gabriel de Saint-Aubin (1724-1780). The event (Oct. 30, 2007-January 12, 2008) assumes added importance, as it includes works from both European and American collections and is the first such collaborative arrangement between The Frick and the Musée du Louvre, which will exhibit the show next year.
Saint-Aubin not only had a remarkable ability to draw figures so miniature that one really should have a magnifying class to examine the detail, but he was a chronicler of life in Paris, where he resided throughout his creative career. Looking at some of his work provides an inkling of what certain aspects of Paris were like. Saint-Aubin was enamored of the theater and the opera. For example, his pen, watercolor and gouache over graphite pencil on paper depiction of Lully’s opera “Armide” as performed at the Palais-Royal is magnificent in its minute detail of the stage and the audience.
His oil on canvas work “A Street Show in Paris” captures the spirit of populist entertainment. His impressive “Salon du Louvre” recalls the time when artists would gather to present their works at the Louvre in a much-awaited event. Here again, Saint-Aubin impresses with the great detail he was able to pack into his meticulous creations. Some of his most noted achievements are included, such as his “The Triumph of Pompey 61 BC.”
According to The Frick, this is the first major retrospective on the artist in more than eighty years, as well as the first to include works from both sides of the Atlantic.
You should also note that it is now possible to visit the Frick’s reopened and refurbished Fragonard Room, a treasure of a space that is breathtaking in its beauty, with much-improved lighting showing Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s work to fresh advantage. At The Frick Collection, 1 East 70th Street. Phone: 212-288-0700.