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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.
- Bulletin de la Société de l'histoire de l'art français, 2001, p. 63-87 (ISSN 0301-4126).
Media related to Jacques Carrey at Wikimedia Commons
- R. Heberdey: ‘'Untersuchungen zu den Zeichnungen Jacques Carreys'’, Jhft. Österreich. Archäol. Inst. Wien, xxxi (1939), pp. 96–141
- T. Bowie and D. Thimme: The Carrey Drawings of the Parthenon Sculptures, 1971.