The present drawing is one of the rare large architectural views by Perlin, who excelled in doublefocused perspective, enlivened by spectacular waterworks.
Born in Versailles, the son of a royal coachman, Firmin Perlin enrolled in 1761 at the École des arts d’Amiens, where he distinguished himself in mathematics. At age twenty-five he travelled to Rome. The remaining eleven years of his short life were very productive. He created drawings of bifocal construction, using two vanishing points, and designed, decorated, or restored numerous mansions in and around Paris. Among his architectural works are the courtyard of the Hôtel du duc de Montmorency and the Pavillon Colombe, once inhabited by the singer Adeline Colombe, then by the duc de Talleyrand, and much later by the writer Edith Wharton.
The Cooper Union Museum in New York owns the brilliant drawing Invocation of a Hero; a Monumental Fountain was in the collection of Joseph Bardac (Sale Dec. 9, 1927), and The Grand Waterworks, together with Gathering in Front of a Castle were sold at Palais Galliera on Dec. 5, 1961.
Michael Gallet, Les architectes Parisiens du XVIIIe siècle, Paris, 1995, pp. 402-03.