Compigné painting representing the Château de Choisy on the courtyard side


France, circa 1775
Attributed to Thomas Compigné
Pewter, gold, colored varnish and gouache

Similar examples:
– Thomas Compigné, View of the Château de Choisy on the courtyard side, private collection
– Thomas Compigné, View of the Château de Choisy on the courtyard side, circa 1775, 5 inches x 6 inches, private collection
– Thomas Compigné, View of the Château de Choisy on the courtyard side, circa 1775, 5 inches x 6 inches, private collection
– Thomas Compigné, View of the Château de Choisy on the courtyard side, circa 1775, 5 inches x 6 inches, private collection

This small rectangular painting in stamped pewter, enhanced with gold and gouache represents a view of the Château de Choisy from the Cour d’Honneur.
The courtyard facade of the castle is described with great precision thanks to the stamping technique. It corresponds to the new facade with an Ionic order built by Gabriel at Louis XV’s request, marking the central front facade. Two main buildings framing the courtyard are marked by projecting front facades also decorated with triangular pediments. The foundations and the corners of the ensemble are underlined by moldings. The whole is topped by a mansard roof punctuated by dormers and pairs of oculi above the pediments of the two wings.
The courtyard is framed by gates beyond which one can see the park, thanks to a row of trees on the left, while an interruption of this one allows to reach a second courtyard on the left in which one can see another building in the extension of the main facade. This one corresponds to the wing that the Princesse de Conti had built, facing the Seine.
In the foreground, numerous characters decorate the courtyard, in the middle of which circulates a horse-drawn carriage. These characters are enhanced with gouache, as well as the slightly pink sky which colors evoke the end-of-the-day light.
The castle details, described through the stamping of the pewter plate, such as the enameled roof and the foliage of the trees, make this representation particularly precise and lively.
A green enameled frame with a striated pattern embellishes the outline of the painting.

Thomas Compigné
Thomas Compigni probably arrived from Italy around 1750, and later on took the name Compigné when he settled in the shop Roi David, rue Greneta, in Paris. As a tabletier, he specialized in the manufacture and sale of boxes, knitting sets, draughts and chess sets, snuffboxes and other cane handles of blond tortoiseshell inlaid with gold. Renowned for the quality of his objects, he passed on to posterity through the production of precious paintings which technique remains unknown to that day. In 1773, he presented two views of the Château de Saint-Hubert to the King and obtained the title of “tabletier privilégié du Roi” under Louis XV and Louis XVI. His themes of predilection were most often views of towns, monuments and châteaux in the extension of park or landscape perspective. The ensembles were almost always animated by small characters.

The Château de Choisy
The Château de Choisy-le-Roi was one of Louis XV’s favorite residences.
Its history began in 1677, with the arrival of Mademoiselle de Montpensier, known as la Grande Mademoiselle. Only daughter to Gaston d’Orléans, Louis XIII’s and Marie de Bourbon- Montpensier’s brother, she was Louis XIV’s cousin. Having acquired a plot of land on the banks of the Seine in Choisy, where there was a mansion that she quickly had demolished, she called upon Jacques IV Gabriel between 1678 and 1679 to build a castle on the site of the old house. This residence then enjoyed a perspective crossing the main building, between the main entrance, the courtyard, and the garden at the back; the wings were marked by two pavilions decorated with projecting outbuildings which echoed the central outbuilding, where the main entrance of the castle was located. The first floors of the outbuildings were highlighted by continuous bosses.
At her death in 1693, Mademoiselle bequeathed the residence to her half-brother, Monseigneur, known as the Grand Dauphin, Louis de France (1661-1711), who exchanged it two years later for the Château de Meudon with Anne de Souvré, Louvois’ widow. His heirs sold the estate to the Princesse de Conti in 1717. When she arrived, she had a wing built next to the main building, facing the Seine, visible here on the left side of the Compigné.
Louis XV, seduced by the estate located near the great hunting forests, acquired it after the Princesse de Conti’s death in 1739. Little by little, he transformed it into an intimate place, constantly embellishing it by entrusting it to his first architect Jacques V Gabriel, and to his son Ange-Jacques Gabriel. He initially used it for a small circle of family members. Indeed, from 1746 onwards, it became the place where the royal family met, in a less formal setting. It soon required the construction of new outbuildings, as well as a second, more intimate, small castle. As for the main castle, it underwent major work elaborated with Gabriel. The interior layout was modified, and the courtyard façade was demolished in order to obtain a larger surface. A new facade was designed on the model of the one overlooking the Seine. It included an Ionic order marking the central forebody, surmounted by a pediment which corresponded to the one visible on this Compigné.
Choisy was for the king a place ideal for relaxation, well suited for games, parties, and walks along the Seine. He considered this castle as his “family home”; unlike Versailles, Fontainebleau and Compiègne, which were more official residences.
After the death of Louis XV, the castle was gradually abandoned. Louis XVI did not like it and its maintenance was too expensive. In 1787, the castle was stripped of its furniture and given to the War Department to be used as barracks. During the Revolution, the estate was sold at auction in 1791 as national property. The park and the buildings were sold in lots to about twenty private owners. The buildings were thus dismantled and demolished little by little, leaving very few visible traces in the landscape today.

Anaïs Bornet, Renaud Serrette, Stéphane Castelluccio, Gabriela Lamy, Le château de Choisy, Paris, 2021.
Anita Semail, « ces délicats chefs-d’œuvre de la tabletterie au XVIIIe siècle : Les Compigné et leurs créateurs », Plaisir de France n° 427, mars 1975.
Ouvrage collectif, Compigné, peintre et tabletier du Roy, catalogue d’exposition, Grasse, Villa- Musée Jean-Honoré Fragonard, June-July 1991.

Good overall condition

Additional information

Dimensions 17,5 × 13,5 cm