Private Collection (France)
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The Nail Makers (Le Cloutier Grossier)
Jean-Michel Moreau le jeune (French, 1741 - 1814)
Pen and black ink and brush with gray wash over traces of black chalk
11.7 × 24.1 cm (4 5/8 × 9 1/2 in.)
In a light-filled workshop, a nail maker heats an iron rod in a forge. Equipped with hammers and anvils, two coworkers pound nails until sharp. Behind the figure on the left, a dog paces gingerly on a tread-wheel activating the bellows that fuel the forge.
This small drawing is one of several studies Jean-Michel Moreau le jeune produced for prints featured in Diderot's Encyclopédie. Each print catalogues an artisanal occupation-from shoemaker to roofer to floor-tiler-and is accompanied by a brief definition and a legend identifying the specific tools and practices of the trade.
To maximize the view of every aspect of the nail-making process, Moreau carefully spread out the objects and workers across the