Title:The Choice of HerculesArtist:Michel Corneille Date:c. 1685Creation Place:Europe, FranceCredit Line:The John R. Van Derlip FundAccession Number:92.109
A pupil of Charles Le Brun, Corneille collaborated with his master on the painted decorations for the palace of Louis XIV at Versailles; he was also a designer for the royal tapestry factory at Gobelins. Corneille was also a prolific draftsman, whose drawings were sought by the most prestigious collectors of the seventeenth century, including Everard Jabach and Pierre Mariette. Significantly, in this drawing, Corneille departs from the norm of academic drawing. He employs pen and brown ink, brush with red and brown wash, and white gouache heightening on blue paper, which emphasize coloristic effects. His technique anticipates developments in French drawing of the 18th century. Corneille illustrates a traditional allegory. The Greek mythological hero Hercules must choose between Vice, represented by the seductive figure of Venus, the goddess of Love, to his left; and the chaste personification of Virtue, who summons him at the right.