A Sarcophagus and Classical Decor
  • Charles Percier
  • Paris 1764 - 1838
  • A Sarcophagus and Classical Decor, before 1798
  • Watercolour over pen and black ink, on paper
  • 210 × 159 mm
Ian Woodner, New York
Sale Christie’s London, July 2, 1991, lot 165
Sale Sotheby’s New York, January 10, 1995, lot 161
Ch. Percier & P.-Fr.-L. Fontaine: Palais et Maisons
de Rome et de ses environs; Paris 1798,
(Proposal for the title page of the Premier Cahier),
Ch. Plante: Inside Out, London 2000, no. 13

At the age of 15, Percier met his brilliant future friend and collaborator Pierre Fontaine (1762-1853) in the studio of his teacher Fr. Peyre. They were reunited in 1786 as fellows of the Académie de France in Rome, where they primarily studied the architecture and decorative arts of antiquity and the Renaissance.

Back in Paris in 1792, they drew on this foundation to develop the Empire Style in numerous publications and designs, obtaining tremendous success and high offices, not only under Napoleon. The watercolour shown here depicts an imaginary gathering of classical objects, which according to the published caption could be found in the collection of the Palazzo Mattei di Giove in Rome.

Percier also depicted the sarcophagus in the foreground in another view of the Vatican (Fig.1).