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Equestrians and their horses in elaborate ceremonial Turkish and Persian costumes illustrated in this series edited by French author Charles Perrault, who wrote the descriptive text below each picture, and engraved by two of the leading printmakers of 17th century France, Israel Silvestre and François Chauveau. The book was commissioned by the young king Louis XIV of France, and depicted the procession of June 1662 he had organized, sometimes referred to as The Grand Carrousel. The festivities took three days and culminated each day in pageants which the king attended in the costume of a Roman emperor. The noble participants were divided into teams led by the king and other nobles dressed in the costumes of Romans, Persians, Indians, Turks and Native Americans, and came each day to participate in games of skill in a large ampitheatre in front of the Tuilleries which held 15,000 spectators -- the space is known to this day as Le Carrousel. Louis's reign was notable for the splendor of various court entertainments; displays of horsemanship by finely-attired riders, with musical accompaniment provided by the most famous composers of the day. The Grand Carrousel of 1662 was supposedly offered in honor of Louis's queen and infant son, but was commonly assumed to have been intended to impress the king's new mistress, Louise de la Vallière.
Charles Perrault was the well-educated son of a French upper-class bourgeois family who began his career as a lawyer and was a forerunner of the European Enlightenment. In his writings he criticized authority and stated that progress was possible in the arts and sciences and argued on behalf of the value of modern literature. He is especially well known for his enduring influence on children's literature, publishing collections of fairy tales that remain popular and familiar to this day, including "Blue Beard," "Puss in Boots," and "Cinderella." He became a member of the Academie Française in 1671.
Israel Silvestre was a prolific Parisian printer and engraver, with over 1,000 known pieces that include landscapes and panoramas of France, the Lorraine and of Italy, which he visited a few times during his career. In 1662 he was named Ordinary Draughtsman to the King, and served as drawing master to the Dauphin. He was received as a member of the royal academy in 1670 on the recommendation of Charles LeBrun.
François Chauveau was a French miniature painter, draftsman and etcher, one of the most prolific printmakers of his time. Born in Paris to an aristocratic family, he studied with Laurent de La Hyre. A prolific and imaginative artist, he made vignettes for books and atlases, and was the leading illustrator of fiction and plays in the 17th century. In all, he produced over 1,600 prints and some 1,400 drawings for other printmakers. Chauveau was made a member of the Royal Academie in 1663 and later became a councillor. Chauveau's work on a series of prints depicting the Carousel of 1662 earned him the title of Graveur du Roi (Engraver to the King). Chauveau had four sons who became noted artists.
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de Silvestre, Fabien. "Israël Silvestre." Israël Silvestre et Ses Decendants. 2010. http://israel.silvestre.fr/israel/israel.php (4 May 2010).
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"Silvestre, Israel." Der Messekatalog. 41st Stuttgart Antiquarian Book Fair: 24 January 2002. http://stuttgarter.antiquariatsmesse.de/katalog/display.html (23 April 2002).