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A Mere Animal Painter? Assessing Jean-Baptiste Oudry

Jean-Baptiste Oudry was an intimate of royals, a star in the Paris art world, and famed throughout early 18th-century Europe as the greatest painter of animals and the hunt. On May 6, Colin Bailey, chief curator of The Frick Collection and author of the introductory essay in the exhibition catalogue, evoked Oudry's life and extraordinary career at the Getty Center in the first of several lectures and other events related to the exhibition.

Through dint of talent, industriousness, and shrewd self-promotion, Oudry became one of the most acclaimed artists in Europe, a favorite of Louis XV and of Northern European Protestant rulers, who preferred his hunts and still lifes to the sensual fantasies of the likes of François Boucher.

Oudry's hunt scenes burst with the noise, tumult, and bloodthirstiness of this aristocratic pastime—in one painting, a pack of hounds salivate over a deer's entrails, held aloft as their gory prize—and revel in its grandeur, often featuring aristocratic onlookers and their horses. Oudry's still lifes are "full of opulent accoutrements and mysterious encounters," said Bailey—a trapped heron noisily struggling for freedom, a bowl of figs cooling delicately next to a massive dead wolf, a stag's head perched by an unseen hand against an austere brick wall.

And Oudry didn't only paint. He trained a workshop of proteges, directed two tapestry manufactories, lectured on color theory and chiaroscuro to his students at the Royal Academy, and still found time to send detailed "for sale" lists of his works to likely patrons such as the duke of Schwerin.

Often "greeting the sunrise with my palette at the ready," Oudry worked tirelessly to record animals from life, capturing their mood, character, and expression on both paper and canvas, most notably in the menagerie series that is the centerpiece of Oudry's Painted Menagerie.

When Oudry died in 1755, he had assembled a vast estate of 175,000 livres (greater than Boucher's!). Despite his fame, however, Oudry fell into near-oblivion in the 19th and 20th centuries, dismissed as "a mere animal painter." This exhibition lets us take a close look and judge his work for ourselves.

Re: A Mere Animal Painter? Assessing Jean-Baptiste Oudry

(Sorry to be a bit off topic, but I couldn't find any "contact us" links)

I think the print ad for the exhibit that appeared in this month's LA Magazine is terrific.  I posted it here:

Where can I find information on the designer of the ad, and are there any other print ads for the exhibit?


Re: A Mere Animal Painter? Assessing Jean-Baptiste Oudry

Thanks for your positive feedback. Our print ad was created by M&C Saatchi Los Angeles (MCS). This is the only print ad in our campaign, but you can see a 15' version of it at Westfield Plaza in Century City.

MCS also created our billboards featuring Clara, which can be seen all around Los Angeles and beginning June 18th, you can see our television commercial promoting the exhibition, which will air on KCBS and KCAL. Stay tuned!

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