This folio fable illustration is from Jean de La Fontaine’s Fables Choisies, mises en vers…. The work was edited by C. P. de Monthenault d’Egly and published in Paris by Chez Desaing & Saillant and Durand between 1755 and 1759.
The engravings were by Cochin, Tardieu, Prevost, Chedel, Lempereur and others after the original artwork of Jean-Baptiste Oudry. Oudrey drew sketches based on the fables of La Fontaine beginning in 1729. The publisher describes in the preface how Oudry composed the drawings “for his own pleasure, and in those chosen moments of imagination when an Artist grasps the idea of his subject and gives free reign to his genius” (Ray’s translation). “One of the most ambitious and successful of all illustrated books” (Ray).
La Fontaine would become a prominent author in the French canon. He collected and adapted near 240 fables from Aesop, Phaedrus, as well as Eastern, Oriental, and Continental fables.