Description & Technical information

This delightful drawing, signed in full and dated 1770, is one of a number of chinoiserie drawings by Pillement incorporating see-saw subjects. It is a preparatory study for one of six designs of oriental figures perched on see-saws, engraved by Jean-Jacques Avril, which appeared in 1773 under the title Cahier de Balançoires Chinoises. Comparable preparatory studies by Pillement for other plates in the Cahier de Balançoires Chinoises include two drawings in the Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, and one in the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh. An unsigned, reversed and possibly reworked black chalk counterproof of the present sheet was at one time in the collection of the art historian K. E. Maison.

Such charming and original compositions as this, with their immense visual appeal, were the source of much of the artist’s contemporary fame. As one author has written, ‘[Pillement’s] chinoiseries exaggerate wispy, fragile qualities of the style. It is as though the world is a fairyland conjured out of gossamer and stalks of grass, and the humans inhabiting it, fanciful little creatures who dance and tumble around so effervescent and lively they seem more creatures of the air than earth.’


Black chalk, with stumping, with framing lines in brown ink.

Medium: Black chalk, Brown ink
Signature: Signed and dated jean Pillement / 1770. at the lower right.

Dimensions: 30.2 x 20.7 cm (11⁷/₈ x 8¹/₈ inches)
Literature: Maria Gordon-Smith, Pillement, Cracow, 2006, p.197, fig.195.

Categories: Paintings, Drawings & Prints