A scene from Cervantes’s novel Don Quixote, depicting the world from the perspective of Quixote’s mad delusions. Allegorical figures of Madness and Eros point him on his journey. Coypel depicts Don Quixote’s hallucinatory perception of the world — a vision of a smiling Dulcinea sees him off on his quest, transformed into an elegant lady rather than the farm girl she is, while a windmill looming in the distance morphs into a threatening giant brandishing a club and a sword. The print is likely based on one of a series of 28 tapestries that Coypel designed for the renowned tapestry maker Gobelins, illustrating Don Quixote. The series was highly successful, and was produced continuously between 1714 and 1794.
Charles-Antoine Coypel (1694-1752) was from a family of French painters, son of Antoine Coypel, the First Painter to the King of France. A precocious artist, he was made a member of the Académie Royale by the age of 21. He tried his hand at playwriting during the 1720s, but few were performed. Meanwhile, his artistic career was extremely successful. On his father’s death in 1722, he inherited the position of painter to Philippe II, Duc d’Orléans, and he later became the favorite painter of Louis XV’s queen, Maria Leczinska, receiving a commission from her to design a series of theatrical scenes for tapestries. In 1747 he became director of the Académie Royale and was made First Painter to the King, as his father had been. Coypel also received several commissions for paintings for the Palais de Versailles.
Louis Surugue was a draughtsman, etcher and engraver, print-publisher and printseller. He trained with Bernard Picart, whom he followed to the Netherlands in 1710. On returning to France in 1715, he began publishing and selling prints. In the 1730s he became a member of the Académie Royale. Admired for his precision and skill, Surugue was a sought-after engraver of portraits and genre scenes and contributed to most of the engraved collections which appeared in France during his lifetime.
Condition: Generally very good with only minor toning, wear, soiling, soft creases. Very faint dampstain top center. Trimmed to image on top and sides.
Charles-Antoine Coypel.” Los Angeles: The Getty Museum. 2000. http://www.getty.edu/art/collections/bio/a978-1.html (15 April 2002).
“Charles-Antoine Coypel.” The Grove Dictionary of Art. New York: Macmillan. 2000. Artnet.com. http://www.artnet.com/library/02/0200/T020047.asp (15 April 2002).
“Louis Surugue.” The Grove Dictionary of Art. New York: Macmillan. 2000. Artnet.com. http://www.artnet.com/library/08/0824/T082428.asp (15 April 2002).