Coypel’s Quixote



The Arrival of Dancers at the Wedding of Camacho, c. 1710-52

Workshop of Peter van den Hecke, after Philippe de Hondt, Arrival of the Shepherdesses at the Wedding of Camacho, 1730−45 (before 1748), wool and silk, 10′ 3″ x 18′ 3″. Photo: Michael Bodycomb

This is the final week to see Charles Coypel’s extensive Don Quixote tapestries, paintings, prints, and books, on display at the Frick through May 17. Coypel, Louis XV’s painter, was commissioned by Paris’s Gobelins Manufactory to produce the series, which he worked on for a good portion of his life, from 1714 to 1734; it comprises twenty-eight episodes from the novel, in full-scale preparatory paintings that the manufactory later wove into tapestries. Coypel, himself a playwright, took a theatrical approach to the images, as evidenced by the gestures and poses of his characters; the curator Esther Bell writes, “His playful visual innuendos were targeted at both a rowdy parterre and aristocratic circles who equally embraced puns and dirty jokes, while the depiction of ballet and costume mirror both the repertoire of the Opéra and private performances for the privileged members of the King’s household.”

Coypel’s became the most influential eighteenth-century illustrations of Quixote; tapestries like the one above were indebted to his work.

Tapestry: Don Quichotte guéri de sa folie par la sagesse, from

Don Quixote Delivered from Folly by Wisdom, 1773, wool and silk, 12′ 2″ x 12′ 8″.

Histoire de Don Quichotte : "Don Quichotte endormi combat contre les outres"

Asleep, Don Quixote Fights the Wineskins, 1716, oil on canvas, 48″ x 50 3/8″.

Histoire de Don Quichotte : " La Dolorida affligÈe de sa barbe demande ‡ Don Quichotte de la venger"

The Distressed Countess Trifaldi, Afflicted by Her Beard, Implores Don Quixote to Avenge Her, ca. 1716, oil on canvas, 48 3/8″ x 51″.


Don Quixote at Don Antonio Moreno’s Ball, 1731, oil on canvas, 65 3/8″ x 105 1/8″.

Histoire de Don Quichotte : "Don Quichotte consulte la tÍte enchantÈe chez Don Antonio DorÈno"

Don Quixote Consults the Enchanted Head at the House of Don Antonio Moreno, 1732, oil on canvas, 62 1/4″ x 71 7/8″.

"Don Quichotte servi par les filles de l'hôtellerie"

Don Quixote Served by the Girls of the Inn, 1751, oil on canvas, 22 7/8″ x 28 3/8″.

Dan Piepenbring is web editor of The Paris Review.