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The Torrent and the River, from a Series Designed to Illustrate the Enlarge image

The Torrent and the River, from a Series Designed to Illustrate the "Fables" of La Fontaine, 1732

Jean-Baptiste Oudry
French, 1686 - 1755
brush and black with grey wash, heightened with opaque white, on blue laid paper
31.2 x 25.8 cm; image: 23.9 x 18.8 cm
Purchased 1981
National Gallery of Canada (no. 26551)

This brush and wash drawing with white gouache highlights on blue paper is part of a suite of 276 sheets executed by Jean-Baptiste Oudry between 1729 and 1734 to illustrate the "Fables" of La Fontaine. In "The Torrent and the River", the artist pictures a traveller pursued by a band of brigands just as the current is pulling him under the deceptively calm surface. The moral of the fable: Beware of silent dogs and still waters. Oudry's talent as an animal artist is evident in the detail of the horse's head in the foreground, rendered with minimal brushstrokes.

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