Jacques Carrey (12 January 1649–18 February 1726) was a French
painter and draughtsman, now remembered almost exclusively for the series
of drawings he made of the Parthenon, Athens, in 1674.
Carrey was born in Troyes, and was part of the embassy of Charles Marie
François Olier, marquis de Nointel, to Constantinople in August 1670.
Part of Nointel's commission was to purchase manuscripts, medallions and
sculptures while abroad. Carrey was recommended by his master, Charles
Le Brun, to be included in the entourage as draughtsman. As a result of
this, between 1670 and 1679 Carrey executed over 500 drawings of towns,
antiquities, ceremonies and examples of local fetes and customs in Asia
Minor, Greece and Palestine. He also painted in oil; one surviving canvas
of Athens in 1674 shows his skill.
Nointel's group visited Athens in November 1674. Here in a two-week period
Carrey produced about fifty-five drawings of the sculptures on the Parthenon.
Thirty-five of these, showing details of the pediments, metopes and frieze,
now survive in the Paris Bibliotheque Nationale. Since 20% of the Parthenon's
sculpture was destroyed in the Venetian bombardment of 1687, Carrey's work
is the sole record of much of this missing section, though not all since
some of the sculpture was irretrievably lost. His red and black chalk drawings,
probably taken from life, meticulously record the cracks and other damage,
making no attempt to complete missing details.
On returning to Paris in 1679 Carrey presented Le Brun with the drawings he
had made in Constantinople; several are in the Cabinet des Dessins at the
Louvre, Paris. Three paintings known to have been made by Carrey in 1675
are presently unknown, but the painting depicting The Marquis de Nointel
before the City of Athens in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Chartres is almost
certainly his. He died in his home city of Troyes, aged 77.