France, second half of the 18th century
Pewter and silver
Gouache, coloured varnishes
This small painting, in pewter leaf embossed and enhanced with silver, gouache and coloured varnishes, represents a castle. The castle depicted in this painting is made of brick and stone, on a stone base. It is characteristic of the architecture developed since the 17th century.
The perfectly symmetrical plan is centred on a pavilion, opening through large windows with ornate balconies, framed by four-bay, two-storey pavilions with a high slate roof adorned with dormer windows. It ends with two symmetrical three-bay return pavilions of equal height with slate roofs punctuated by chimneys. Finally, the courtyard is embodied by two water basins leaving a passage in the axis of the central pavilion extended in the foreground by a wide alley. Completing the symmetry of the ensemble, this alley divides the foreground of the composition where a greenery flowerbed is animated with numerous characters. Around a carriage and a coach, men and women run to welcome the newcomers, while several men with canes walk towards the door of the central pavilion of the castle. On either side, two rows of trees frame this open space symmetrically. Coloured in gouache, elements of the castle and incised foliage, enhanced with silver leaf, precise and animate the drawing. The sky unfolds in an off-white, then bluish and cloudy background. A posterior annotation on the reverse specifies that it is the château de Maisons-Laffitte, but all the elements of its architecture do not correspond.