Deer hunting in the Oise in the sight of Compiègne

Deer hunting in the Oise in the sight of Compiègne by Jean Baptiste Oudry - château de Fontainebleau - © RMN Grand Palais

Jean-Baptiste Oudry (1686-1755)
H. 357 cm; L. 991 cm
Oil on canvas
Château de Fontainebleau, Inv 7010
Queen’s Staircase.

This large oil on canvas is the preparatory board for one of the tapestries of the famous hangings known as the Royal Hunts of Louis XV, commissioned in 1733 by the King for the Château de Compiègne and whose weavings, made at the Manufacture des Gobelins, are kept in Compiègne and in the Palazzo Pitti in Florence. For this great series, the King called on Jean-Baptiste Oudry, who, for just over ten years, had had a brilliant career as a painter of hunting and animals.

The scene presents a panoramic view of the forest of Compiègne from the village of Royallieu. The King, an avid hunter, is depicted chasing a deer trying to escape across the river. The scale of the scene, the number of people and the realism of the forest setting almost make the painter of hunts, a painter of battles. The animals, painted in a natural style, are extremely delicate and the central figure of the King shines with his presence and dignity. This commission would take Oudry more than ten years to complete. However, it was during the reigns of Charles X and Louis-Philippe that the series of paintings entered Fontainebleau to decorate the Queen’s Staircase and the princely apartments, opening onto the Oval Courtyard, to which it gave access. This apartment has since been called ‘Apartment of the Hunts’.

2003-2004, Château de Fontainebleau; Château de Versailles, Oudry’s Animals. Collection of the Dukes of Mecklenburg-Schwerin.

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