Jean-Honoré Fragonard (Grasse 1732-1806 Paris)
Jean-Honoré Fragonard (Grasse 1732-1806 Paris)

La Promenade

Details
Jean-Honoré Fragonard (Grasse 1732-1806 Paris)
La Promenade
black chalk, grey wash, the outlines incised with a stylus for transfer
16½ x 13 5/8 in. (41.8 x 34.5 cm.)
Provenance
Tourneur; Paris, 5-7 March 1860, lot 175.
Auguste-Joseph Carrier (1800-1875); Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 5 May 1875, lot 16.
Anonymous sale; Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 1 May 1876, lot 103.
Paul Mantz (1821-1895), Paris, by 1889.
Camille Groult (1832-1908), Paris; thence by descent to his grandson,
Pierre Bordeaux-Groult (1916-2007), until 1986.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Literature
R. Portalis, Honoré Fragonard: sa vie et son oeuvre, Paris, 1889, p. 310.
A. Ananoff, L'oeuvre dessiné de Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732-1806): catalogue raisonné, Paris, 1961-70, I, p. 96, no. 176, fig. 70; II, pp. 300-301; IV, p. 350.
J.-J. Lévêque, Fragonard, Paris, 1983, p. 72, ill.

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Lot Essay

Probably an independent work of art rather than a study for a painting or a print, this drawing shows a fashionable young woman, full length and in profile, looking down pensively and followed at right by two lively dogs. Her sense of isolation is reinforced by her central placement in a forest glen and by the contrast between her relatively simple, outlined forms and the brilliant and varied calligraphic strokes denoting the vegetation.

An indication of a date in the 1780s is supplied by the woman's dress and her hat (for similar outfits, see, for example, The return of the victor, New York, Pierpont Morgan Library; Ananoff, op. cit., II, no. 605, fig. 193, or Cavalcade of women on horseback, Ananoff, op. cit., IV, no. 2118, fig. 573). There are also important clues in the handling of chalk and style of sketching that indicate changes in Fragonard's draftsmanship characteristic of the 1780s or later. Instead of the flowing, cursive line seen in works from the 1760s and 1770s, here the artist applies the chalk in broken rhythms, producing long, firm strokes and angular contours. Also characteristic of Fragonard's drawings in the 1780s are the stylus lines which give evidence of the artist's method of repeating his composition (for example, The Return of the victor, mentioned above shows similar incisions). It is a departure from his usual procedure of squaring or of marking only minimal indications as a guide for a second rendering.

We are grateful to Eunice Williams and Marie-Anne Dupuy-Vachey for confirming the attribution of the drawing and their assistance cataloguing it.
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