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Attributed to Jean-Baptiste Martin (1659-1735)

A Hawking Party at Marly c. 1700

Oil on canvas | 120.0 x 180.6 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external) | RCIN 406957

Throne Room, Hillsborough Castle

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  • Jean-Baptiste Martin, sometimes called ‘Martin des Batailles’, was a pupil of the famous military engineer Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban (1633-1707), who introduced him to Adam Frans de Meulen (1630-90), with whom he completed his training. After Van de Meulen’s death Martin took over many of his royal commissions, generally panoramic depictions of Louis XIV victories, and his position as Director of the Gobelin Factory. After 1695 Martin collaborated with his relation Pierre-Denis Martin, completing a series of decorations for the Château de Marly in 1699.

    The Château de Marly was built between 1679 and 1688, with many later embellishments, by Jules Hardouin-Mansart working in collaboration with the painter, Charles le Brun. It was sited at Marly-le-Roi within easy range of Versailles and served as an informal retreat, the pavilions lining the water basins providing separate residences for courtiers.

    The courtiers here are gathered aroung Marie-Adelaide (1685-1712), wife of the Duke of Burgundy (1682-1712), Louis XIV’s grandson and father to Louis XV. The couple married in 1697 when she was twelve. She must here be approximately twenty, which would date the painting to 1705. We see Coysevox’s sculpture of Victory, which was created for this site in 1699-1702. Pierre-Denis Martin’s famous aerial view of Marly dated 1724 shows this Victory is a slightly different position, flanking the lower basins. It is probably that this painting presents a slightly abridged version of the layout which existed at this date, omitting a tapering basin between the main canal and the abreuvoir - the ornamental horse trough just visible at lowest level in the right foreground.

    This is one of a pair of paintings (RCIN 406957-8), acquired by George IV in 1827 from Alexis Delahante as the work of Van de Meulen. Each shows a French Royal château, Versailles and Marly; one includes the duc de Bourgogne and the other his wife, Marie-Adelaide. The pair were presumably commissioned by them or one of their entourage. Both works are of high quality and neither replicates any known composition. Both are in the style of Jean-Baptiste Martin – in particular the pattern of branches looking like palm fronds. However the trees lack the substance and the distance the softness of Martin’s autograph works.

    Provenance

    Purchased by George IV for 40 guineas from Alexis Delahante in Paris (along with its pair, RCIN 406958). Both paintings were hanging in the Picture Gallery at Buckingham Palace in 1841 and were re-framed by order of Prince Albert in his standard 'Picture Gallery' frames.

  • Medium and techniques

    Oil on canvas

    Measurements

    120.0 x 180.6 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external)

    153.8 x 214.5 x 9.4 cm (frame, external)

  • Alternative title(s)

    Palace Gardens, Marly