The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
The Dead Wolf
  • Jean-Baptiste Oudry (1686 - 1755)
  • The Dead Wolf
  • France
  • 1721
  • Painting
  • Oil on canvas
  • Image size: 193 x 260 cm
  • Signature: 'peint par. / J B Oudry. 1721'
  • P626
  • Back State Room
Further Reading
  • Together with its pendant (P630), the painting is one of the early masterpieces by Oudry, one of the most brilliant still-lifes of the eighteenth century and one of the earliest major works of a new style, the Rococo. Both works are likely to have been inserted into the wood panelling of a room used for dining, probably of a country house. Their size and the emphasis on the aristocratic privilege of the hunt indicate an important patron and first owner who is unfortunately unknown. Several copies after both works suggest that they might have been in a more prominent location. The most important copies are in the château of Condé-en-Brie, once owned by the Leriget de la Faye. He belonged to a circle of major collectors in Paris around the Comtesse de Verrue and Jean de Jullienne to which the first owner might have been associated.

    Oudry rendered the two scenes in a free, loose brushwork in pastel-like colours. Both elements reflect a recent vogue for contemporary Venetian painting among French painters around 1720. The objects are arranged close to the picture surface without much spatial depth in the arrangement. Instead, they create a asymmetrical, pattern organised along curves and swirls, a principle that will become typical for the nascent Rococo style. This richness of colours and surface patterns is characteristic of the so-called genre pittoresque, the new French decorative style of the 1720s.Oudry had become a member of the Paris Academy as a history painter in 1719, an ambition which might be related to the strong narrative elements in both paintings.