AUDRAN, Claude III
(b. 1658, Lyon, d. 1734, Paris)
Inevitably, the greater portion of Audran's decorations has been destroyed or obscured by later alterations or repainting. Much of this actual work was probably executed by his pupils and collaborators; it is established that he had a team which followed the designs he prepared. It is his drawings therefore which best represent his style, and fortunately a very large group of these was acquired from his estate in 1734 by a young Swedish architect, Cronstedt (and survives today in the Nationalmuseum at Stockholm). In them Audran is revealed as more lyrical and bolder than his contemporaries, achieving almost dizzy effects of space annihilated in fluttering movement where everything dances and swings. Nature takes over in the shape of monkeys and tumblers, comedians and birds, all rocking or swaying amid exiguous branches like ribbons, and thin trellises festooned with leaves and slender plants that curve up to support fringed platforms like that where a Naturmensch, a proto-Papageno, kneels surrounded by singing birds. This drawing shows Audran at his least abstract.