Description & Technical information

As the inscription on the former backing sheet notes, this drawing depicts the kidnapping of a vivandière named Hélène by an Arab horseman. The term vivandière was used to refer to camp-followers; women who accompanied the army into battle, serving mainly as cooks, laundresses and nurses. 

Stylistically reminiscent of the work of Abel de Pujol’s contemporaries Carle (1758-1836) and Horace Vernet (1789-1863), the present sheet was until recently mounted and used as a handheld fan. An identical composition is found in a slightly larger drawing attributed to Horace Vernet; one of a pair of pencil and watercolours which appeared on the London art market in 1975.

Medium: Black chalk, brown wash and touches of watercolour, backed.
Signature: Inscribed or signed Abel at the lower right. Further inscribed Enlévement d’Hélène. Vivandiere / au 17 Léger (chevaux Arabes). on the old backing sheet.

Dimensions: 25.9 x 25.2 cm (10¹/₄ x 9⁷/₈ inches)
Provenance: Anonymous sale, London, Christie’s South Kensington, 25 April 2007, lot 416
Stephen Ongpin Fine Art, London, in 2008
Private collection, New York
Thence by descent.