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Drawing, Panel of Arabesques for the Hôtel de Salm, Paris

This is a Drawing. It was designed by Jean-Guillaume Moitte. We acquired it in 1911. Its medium is pen and black ink, brush and gouache, black chalk on toned paper, lined. It is a part of the Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design department.

This design for a decorative panel offers a variation on the grotesque motif, an ornamental style that was first seen in ancient Rome. Characterized by the non-narrative assembly of fantastic animals on a two dimensional surface, grotesques were capable of limitless permutations and invited the imagination of countless designers throughout the centuries. The design is host to a lively cast of classical figures: cavorting satyrs, graceful caryatids and plump putti are all connected by a system of garlands and candelabra, together forming a strong vertical axis. Jean-Guillaume Moitte, working in pre-revolutionary France, had stylistic affinities with Ancien Régime designers such as Jean Berain, who helped to revitalize the grotesque in the seventeenth century.

Moitte designed the panel as part of a commission for the Hôtel de Salm in Paris; the artist was one of the main sculptors hired to work on the building, then the private residence of Prince Frederick III of Salm-Kyrburg. The bright turquoise gouache of the drawings is typical of the highly saturated color palette then popular for domestic interiors.

This object was featured in our Object of the Week series in a post titled From Frivolity to Revolt: The Hôtel de Salm’s Role in the French Revolution.

This object was donated by Advisory Council.

Our curators have highlighted 2 objects that are related to this one.

  • Object ID #18438795
  • brush and gouache, watercolor, over etching trimmed to the plate mark.
  • 1961-176-1

Cite this object as

Drawing, Panel of Arabesques for the Hôtel de Salm, Paris; Designed by Jean-Guillaume Moitte (French, 1746–1810); France; pen and black ink, brush and gouache, black chalk on toned paper, lined; 1911-28-219

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibitions Hewitt Sisters Collect and The Cooper-Hewitt Collections: A Design Resource.

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Drawing, Panel of Arabesques for the Hôtel de Salm, Paris |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=25 November 2020 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>