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Drawing, View of Masquerade Ball

This is a Drawing. It was created by Jean-Charles Delafosse. We acquired it in 1911. Its medium is pen and black ink, brush and gray wash, watercolor, black chalk on white laid paper . It is a part of the Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design department.

Dancers in outrageous costumes and masks mingle in a lavish interior. This drawing likely depicts a Parisian vauxhall, which were public entertainment spaces that became fashionable in France in the late 1760s, that played host to art exhibitions, concerts, balls, and other public spectacles until the late 1770s. Iconic characters of the commedia dell’arte such as the hunchback Punchinello and the Pierrot dance amongst the crowd while on one side, a group of people are dressed as yew trees, likely referencing the Yew Tree Ball held at Versailles on 25 February 1745, where Louis XV came disguised as a yew tree. Delafosse may have modeled the costumes after designs by Louis-René Boquet or other costume designers working for the Menus plaisirs du roi or for the Académie royale de musique. The grandiose interior is in fact a capriccio, an imaginary or fantastical space overflowing with Jean-Charles Delafosse’s exuberant decorations in the Greek style, an early form of neoclassicism that emerged in the 1760s. Such highly finished drawings were likely owned by a collector interested in the licentious spectacles at Parisian vauxhalls.

This object was featured in our Object of the Week series in a post titled Let's Dance! .

This object was donated by Advisory Council.

Our curators have highlighted 4 objects that are related to this one. Here are three of them, selected at random:

Cite this object as

Drawing, View of Masquerade Ball; Jean-Charles Delafosse (French, 1734–1791); France; pen and black ink, brush and gray wash, watercolor, black chalk on white laid paper ; 1911-28-38

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

This image is in the public domain (free of copyright restrictions). You can copy, modify, and distribute this work without contacting the Smithsonian. For more information, visit the Smithsonian’s Terms of Use page.

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Drawing, View of Masquerade Ball |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=15 April 2021 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>