The Oudry Hunting Scenes and Louis XV
The brilliantly pink wine bottle cooler (seau à bouteille), and matching plate (assiette) (1758, slides 21, 22a–b) stand out in the Fritzsche Collection for their intriguing connection to the famous painter Jean-Baptiste Oudry (1686–1755), as well as to the King of France, Louis XV (1710–74; officially reigned 1715–74).
Visible on the wine cooler in Slides 22a and 22b is a hunting landscape in a white shaped reserve, framed by gilt scrolls, foliage, and vines. According to some sources, these scenes represent Louis XV on a stag hunt (in Slide 22a) and a duck hunt (in Slide 22b). A similar landscape is painted on the well of the matching plate in Slide 21 (Huntington n.d., no. 27.52; Fritzsche 2018, 14).
The hunting scenes on these objects were likely inspired by Chasses royales de Louis XV (1733–46), a series of Gobelins tapestries designed by Jean-Baptiste Oudry and regarded as one of Oudry’s masterpieces (Fritzsche 2018, 14). An example of these landscapes is this tapestry created based on Oudry’s design: Louis XV Holding the Hound (Louis XV tenant le limier, 1739).
Hunting itself was central to both Oudry’s art and Louis XV’s identity. Louis XV was called the “hunter king” (roi chasseur) (Plax 2017, 107), and he “commissioned a number of other decorative works that show him engaged in his favorite pastime” (Huntington n.d., no. 27.52). Meanwhile, Oudry himself was often referred to as the “painter of the royal hunts” (Plax 2017, 107).
Oudry’s enormous canvases, which are mostly set in the forest of Compiègne, Louis XV’s favorite hunting grounds, present an image of orderly, pristine hunting parks “as stages” for enacting the king’s hunting rituals, while also underscoring the hunt as a symbol of peaceful domesticity, an alternative to the foreign wars waged by his predecessor (and great-grandfather), the Sun King Louis XIV (Plax 2017, 107–13; Bailey 2007, 10).
Intriguingly, one could also argue for a strong connection between the decorative surfaces of porcelain art and Oudry’s style. Oudry’s designs emphasize decorative surface over depth, characteristic of his high regard for the art of tapestry, which he saw as a rival to painting (Opperman 1970, 224). One scholar suggests that Oudry uses the “supreme decorative principles of medieval tapestry-weavers” (Bazin cited in Opperman 1970, 224).
The wine cooler has a mark on the bottom, consisting of the letter F followed by a dot, which has not been identified. There is a visible crack in the center of the object. An object very similar to this one is in the Huntington collection (no. 27.52).
Read more about different types of wine coolers on this page of the exhibit.
References: Bailey 2007; Fritzsche 2018, 14–15; Huntington n.d., no. 27.52; Opperman 1970; Plax 2017.