Landscape with a Stairway and Balustrade
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Jean-Baptiste Oudry
French, about 1744 - 1747
Black and white chalk
12 5/8 x 20 5/8 in.

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In the foreground, weeds grow without restraint, and unpruned trees and shrubs creep upward on the broken trellis. At the center of the composition, light falls through the arch and onto the dilapidated steps. Through the arch, a stairway overtaken with vegetation leads upward, disappearing into the background. At the bottom of the stairs, a loose stack of stones topples to its side. This neglected and forgotten garden imparts a melancholy sense of loss and decay. In this view of an overgrown, abandoned garden, Jean-Baptiste Oudry conveyed his mastery of chiaroscuro. This drawing is one in a large series of over one hundred studies that Oudry made between 1744 and 1747 of the abandoned gardens of the Prince de Guise's château at Arceuil, France.