The Wolf and the Fox
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Jean-Baptiste Oudry
French, Paris, 1733
Brush and black ink, gray wash, heightened with white gouache, on blue paper
12 1/4 x 10 1/4 in.

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A fox, tired of eating chicken, asks a wolf how to hunt larger animals. The wolf teaches the fox to disguise himself as a wolf, and together they stalk a herd of sheep. The shepherd flees with his flock, leaving behind a sacrificial lamb. For his illustration of the tale, Jean-Baptiste Oudry chose the moment when the lamb figures out the plot. To the wolf's dismay, the lamb fools the fox by directing it to chase a rooster. The fable's moral is that to change one's basic nature is impossible.

Though he worked as a tapestry designer, Oudry labored in his spare time over a five-year period to produce 276 illustrations for Jean de La Fontaine's Fables, a popular collection of satires written in the 1600s. Oudry's drawings were published in a luxury edition of the Fables in 1755.