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Four people are seated around a table with a globe in the center and plates around.

A man and woman sit at a dinner table; the woman’s right shoulder is toward us while she’s turned away to look at the man on her left who’s holding up a roll of paper. The man (Voltaire) across from her on the right looks intently at a globe on the table in front of him, he places a compass tool against the globe. A woman next to him in the background, drawn in less detail, also looks at the roll in the other man’s hand. The couple’s legs are seen under the table, everyone dressed in eighteenth-century attire.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Gabriel Jacques de Saint-Aubin, French (Paris 1724 - 1780 Paris)
The Instructive and Appetizing Meal: Voltaire and Three Dinner Companions(?)
Other Titles
Alternate Title: The Instructive and Appetizing Meal
Original Language Title: Les Comestibles Instructifs et Friands
Work Type
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Black and brown ink and gray wash on off-white antique laid paper, framing lines in gray and brown ink
18.5 x 15.2 cm (7 5/16 x 6 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: upper left, gray ink: G d SA 12 janvier 1778; in drawing, on tablecloth, lower right: GdSA.
  • watermark: indecipherable [fragmentary]
  • inscription: monogrammed and dated, upper left, gray ink: G d SA 12 janvier 1778
  • inscription: upper center, black ink: les Comestibles instructifs, et friands
  • inscription: monogrammed, in drawing, on tablecloth, lower right: GdSA.


Recorded Ownership History
Georges Mühlbacher, Paris; his sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, 13-15 May 1907, lot 112; Madame Salvator Mayer, Paris; David David-Weill, Paris (by 1928); Charles E. Dunlap, New York; Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Charles E. Dunlap, inv. no. 1955.189

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Charles E. Dunlap
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art

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Publication History

  • Émile Dacier, Édouard Girod de l'Ain, and Hôtel Jean Charpentier, Exposition des Saint-Aubin, exh. cat. (Paris, 1925), cat. no. 74, p. 68
  • Gabriel Henriot, Collection David-Weill, Braun (Paris, 1926-1928), vol. 3, pp. 403, 405
  • Émile Dacier, Gabriel de Saint-Aubin: peintre, dessinateur et graveur, 1724-1780, Les Editions G. van Oest (Paris, 1929-1931), vol. 2, cat. no. 175, p. 33
  • Victor Carlson, Ellen D'Oench, and Richard S. Field, Prints and Drawings by Gabriel de Saint-Aubin, 1724-1780, exh. cat., Davison Art Center (Middletown, 1975), cat. no. 55, pp. 96, 104
  • Konrad Oberhuber, European Master Drawings of Six Centuries from the Collection of the Fogg Art Museum, exh. cat., National Museum of Western Art (Tokyo, 1979), cat. no. 80, n.p.
  • Alvin L. Clark, Jr., "To Delight the Eye": French Drawings and Paintings from the Collection of Charles E. Dunlap, exh. cat., Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, 2005), cat. no. 30, pp. 5, 8, 12
  • Alain Rustenholz, Paris, la ville rêvée de Voltaire, Parigramme (Paris, 2007), p. 61
  • Ewa Lajer-Burcharth and Elizabeth M. Rudy, ed., Drawing: The Invention of a Modern Medium, exh. cat., Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, 2017), pp. 273-274, 288, repr. p. 270 as fig. 1
  • Edouard Kopp, Elizabeth M. Rudy, and Kristel Smentek, ed., Dare to Know: Prints and Drawings in the Age of Enlightenment, exh. cat., Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2022), pp. 76-79, repr. p. 76 (detail), and p. 79 as fig. 1
  • Alvin L. Clark, Jr. and Edouard Kopp, French Drawings from the Age of Claude, Poussin, Watteau, and Fragonard: Highlights from the Collection of the Harvard Art Museums, Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2022), cat. no. 77, repr.

Exhibition History

Verification Level

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