Six months before he died in poverty and obscurity, architect and draftsman Jean‐Jacques Lequeu (1757–1826) donated one more than 800 drawings, one of the most singular and fascinating graphic oeuvres of his time, to the French Royal Library. They remained there, in the institution that would become the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF). The Morgan Library & Museum is proud to be the first institution in New York City to present a selection of these works. Some sixty of these works, the best of Lequeu’s several hundred drawings, are now on view in Jean‐Jacques Lequeu: Visionary Architect, the first museum retrospective to bring significant public and scholarly attention to one of the most imaginative architects of the Enlightenment.
Lequeu’s meticulous drawings in pen and wash include highly detailed renderings of buildings and imaginary monuments populating invented landscapes. His mission was to see and describe everything systematically—from the animal to the organic, from erotic fantasy to his own visage. Solitary and obsessive, he created the fantastic worlds shown in his drawings without ever leaving his studio, and enriched them with characters and stories drawn from his library.