Park Scene
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Jean-Baptiste Oudry
French, Arcueil, 1744
Black and white chalk
13 13/16 x 20 1/4 in.

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Before the total destruction of the gardens of Arcueil, [Jean-Baptiste Oudry] never failed to go and draw there whenever he had a moment's leisure.... One could always find people sketching, and everyone eagerly consulted M. Oudry; in these picturesque pastimes he excelled like an instructor in his class.

Thus wrote Oudry's biographer in the 1800s. Many of Oudry's nearly fifty large-scale park scenes from between 1744 and 1747 depict these gardens of Arcueil, at the Prince de Guise's chateau near Paris, which were destroyed not long after. Oudry's landscape drawings, of which approximately one thousand still exist, combine a love of nature; a free, rapid drawing style; and a sensitivity to the effects of light.

Here Oudry used white chalk sparingly for subtle highlights on the tan paper. He created depth with a strong receding diagonal line and black chalk markings ranging from the dark foreground to the lighter areas of the sky. Scholars are uncertain whether Oudry or a later artist added the figures.

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