Jo Hedley has kindly confirmed the attribution to Charles de La Fosse and pointed out that the drawing is an early study for the picture in the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Dijon, C. Bailey, The Loves of the Gods, exhib. cat., Fort Worth, Kimbell Art Museum and elsewhere, 1992, no. 6. Bacchus and Ariadne, or Autumn was painted in 1699 for the newly renovated Grand Salon of King Louis XIV at Marly as one of a Four Seasons series. The other seasons were commissioned from Jean Jouvenet, Antoine Coypel and Louis de Boullogne, then the foremost painters of the Académie. The pictures were to be hung thirty feet above the ground, blocking the windows. In mid-September François Mansart, surintendant général des bâtiments du roi, was given authorisation by King Louis XIV to have the canvases painted and the pictures were hung less than a month later.
Mansart would have specified in the commission the exact size of the space to be filled by the picture. Although La Fosse altered the composition, reversing the figures and removing the bystanders, the size indicated by the scale on the present sheet matches the finished canvas almost exactly: 5¾ x 7½ pieds (approximately 184 x 240 cm.).
We grateful to Jo Hedley for her help in cataloguing this drawing.