Pen and black ink and brush and gray wash with red, blue, and yellow wash, with graphite
Support: Cream laid paper
Sheet: 35.1 x 46.3 cm (13 13/16 x 18 1/4 in.)
Bequest of Muriel Butkin 2008.379
This drawing represents the elaborate stage set for the opera-ballet Les Muses that premiered in 1703 at the Opéra, the most prestigious public theater in Paris. In a city that thrived on spectacle, the opera-ballet was one of the most fashionable forms of entertainment in the 18th century. Berain’s drawing relates to the third scene in the first of four acts, "La Pastorale," in which shepherds and shepherdesses pay homage to deities in a wooded grove. The celebration, accompanied by flutes and a musette (small bagpipe) comprised a lighthearted musical interlude or divertissement, an indispensable component of the opera-ballet.
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