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Watercolour
  • Watercolour
    Le Moyne de Morgues, Jacques, born 1533 - died 1588
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Watercolour

  • Date:

    ca. 1575 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Le Moyne de Morgues, Jacques, born 1533 - died 1588 (painter)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    water-colour and body-colours

  • Museum number:

    AM.3267AA-1856

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level H, case WD, shelf 232

This drawing belongs to an album of 59 botanical watercolours on paper attributed to the Huguenot artist Jacques Lemoyne de Morgues. Some of these, like the present one, are double sided. Dated around 1575, the present work shows A melon with a slice taken out of it on the recto, and a cucumber on the verso. Although Lemoyne has been long known as an obscure artist providing designs for simple woodcuts, his botanical watercolours which were rediscovered at the beginning of the 20th century have earned him a place in history as one of the most remarkable early botanical painters.

Physical description

Botanical illustration of a melon with a slice taken out of it.

Date

ca. 1575 (painted)

Artist/maker

Le Moyne de Morgues, Jacques, born 1533 - died 1588 (painter)

Materials and Techniques

water-colour and body-colours

Dimensions

Height: 10.75 in, Width: 7.50 in

Object history note

Purchased in 1856.

Historical context note

The present drawing belongs to an album of 59 botanical watercolours depicted on 33 sheets, some being double-sided such as the present one, and attributed to Jacques Lemoyne de Morgues. The present sheet shows a melon with a slice taken out of it on the recto, and a cucumber on the verso.

The drawings from this series were acquired in 1856 as one of the first purchases of the V&A, almost by accident, and solely because they were bound up in an extremely fine French late-16th-century brown calf binding.

Although Lemoyne has been long considered as an obscure artist providing designs for simple woodcuts, he was recognised at the beginning of the 20th century as one of the most remarkable early botanical painters.

The V&A binding and the inscriptions on the drawings in both French and Latin suggest that the series was probably made in France around 1575. Lemoyne left the Continent to London where he settled shortly before1580. The V&A album can be compared with another album, reputed to have been made around 1585 in England, and now in the British Museum.

Another group of 27 sheets stylistically close and on similar paper to the V&A watercolours appeared on the market in 2004, followed by a bound florilegium with eighty drawings in an 18th-century French mottled calf gilt and lettered ‘anno 1770’ in 2005.(See Sotheby's, New York, 21 January 2004, lots 29-55 and Sotheby's, New York, 26 January 2005, lot 46.) A highly finished group of six gouaches on vellum on blue and gold background were sold from the Korner collection in 1997 (Sotheby's, New York, January 29, 1997, lots 55-60).

The interest in plants for their medicinal properties and religious symbolism was well anchored since the Middle Ages in Western Europe. A great number of manuscripts were beautifully illuminated with flowers and plants, echoing an interest that goes back to the Antiquity. However this impressive album of botanical watercolours shows a renewed curiosity for the flora from both a scientific and an aesthetic point of view.

In this respect, Lemoyne de Morgues’ representations of plants and insects, which show a particular attention to details and a great sense of realism, can be seen as a forerunner of such projects as the Museum Chartaceum (Latin for ‘Paper Museum’), made by Cassiano dal Pozzo (1588-1657)who commissioned to minor and major artists a vast collection of drawings recording, among others, natural history subjects (see V&A E.731-1949 to E.735-1949, E.2776-1962 to E.2777-1962, E.426-2009 to E.428-2009, and E.1026-2011 – and also Royal Library, Windsor Castle, and British Museum, London).

Descriptive line

Watercolour, A melon with a slice taken out of it on the recto with a cucumber on the verso, attributed to Jacques Le Moyne des Morgues, French school, ca. 1575

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Paul Hulton, The Work of Jacques Le Moyne de Morgues, A Huguenot Artist in France, Florida and England, vol. I, London, 1977, p. 161

The following is the full text of the entry:

26. Recto. Melon
Plates5, 30b

Melon, Cucumis melo L. The fruit is green, the raised areas of the rind light grey shading to darker grey and brown, the flesh pinkish yellow, the seeds pinkish brown.

Watercolours and bodycolours; 274 x 194 mm; 10 ¾ x 7 ⅝ in.

Numbered 47.

AM.3267AA-1856

LITERATURE: Savage (1923).

Verso. Cucumber
Plate 30c

Cucumber, Cucumis sativus L. The skin of the uncut fruit is greenish yellow, heightened with white, with occasional black spots, the segment dull green, the flesh grey white and pale green in the seed area.

Watercolours heightened with bodycolours, the white round one edge of the segment oxidised.

Numbered 48.

LITERATURE: Savage (1922), (1923).

Spencer Savage, ‘The discovery of some of Jacques Le Moyne’s botanical drawings’ in The Gardeners’ Chronicle, 3rd s., vol. LXXI (1922)
Spencer Savage, ‘Early botanical painters. No. 3. – Jacques Le Moyne de Morgues’ in The Gardeners’ Chronicle, 3rd s., vol. LXXIII (1923)

Materials

Water-colour; Gouache

Subjects depicted

Fruit

Categories

ELISE

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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