Charles de Wailly

Charles De Wailly (1730–1798), section through the Interior of Salon, 1771. Pen, ink and wash on paper, 490 × 460 mm.

The high level of ornamental detail and the conspicuously novel elements of stove and fountain suggest that this drawing may have been among those exhibition-drawings that de Wailly sent to the Paris Salon from 1771 onwards, the year he was controversially admitted to the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture. Every element is present – water and fire, and also air, represented by the incense burners above the frieze, and earth, depicted in the small Bacchanalian reliefs. All the viewer’s senses are thus powerfully addressed.