The Hurdy-Gurdy Player
Alexandre Gabriel Decamps (1803-1860)

The Hurdy-Gurdy Player, c. 1840

Pencil and watercolour on white paper, H. 291 mm; W. 228 mm

Signed lower left: Decamps.
Bears a handwritten inscription on the back: Collection L. de M. n°64/16 au 19 juin 1919 Exposition Galerie Georges Petit / Vente hôtel Drouot du 30 mars 1935 [Collection L. de M. n°64/16 on 19 June 1919 Exhibition Galerie Georges Petit / Sale Hôtel Drouot 30 March 1935]. Inscribed on a label: Vente R. Brown, le 7 février 1867/ sous le titre « le savoyard ». / Lithographié sous ce dernier titre par Hte Garnier. / Cf : Adolphe Moreau, « Decamps et son œuvre », op. cit. pages 252 et 79. /Coll. Marmontel. [R. Brown Sale, 7 February 1867/under the title « le savoyard ». / Lithographed under this last title by Hte Garnier./ Cf: Adolphe Moreau, “Decamps et son oeuvre”, op. cit. pages 252 and 79./ Collection Marmontel.]

Provenance: R. Brown Collection, his sale 7 February 1867 under the title « Savoyard ».
M. A. Marmontel Collection.
L. de M. Collection, sale on 30 March 1935.


A. Moreau, Decamps et son œuvre, Paris, 1869, p. 79 and 252.

A painter, draughtsman and engraver, Decamps spent time in various studios, including that of Abel de Pujol before travelling to the Orient from whence he brought back many drawings which he would use for all of his future compositions. Considered an Orientalist artist, he was a prolific artist who also created genre scenes.

This watercolour engraved by Garnier appears in several auction catalogues with two different titles, first, Le Joueur de vielle [the Hurdy-Gurdy Player], and then as “Le Savoyard”. The information given on the label comes from Moreau’s inventory, but it appears there was a mistake in the dimensions (0.30 x 0.33) at the Brown sale, where the Hurdy Gurdy Player was bought by Durand-Ruel.

Decamps often treated this type of theme relating to the genre scene showing his liking for popular scenes, continuing from the Dutch and Flemish tradition.