Jean Honoré Fragonard (French, Grasse 1732–1806 Paris)
Pencil and sepia wash
12 1/8 x 8 1/2 in. (30.8 x 21.6 cm)
Robert Lehman Collection, 1975
Not on view
Fragonard was trained as a history painter and received ample recognition from the Royal Academy in Paris, but he soon turned his attention to decorative genre scenes and portraits to appeal to his collectors. Here he delights in capturing the light reflected from the girl’s silk dress. Liberating form from a defining line, the artist masterfully builds volume almost entirely from a range of spontaneously applied washes. The deep shadows of the background contrast with the luminosity of the foreground in a manner that suggests the influence of Rembrandt, whose work Fragonard knew well. Fragonard further acknowledges his interest in Dutch art with the motif of the sleeping woman, which frequently appears in Dutch genre paintings of the seventeenth century such as Vermeer’s A Maid Asleep. Their moralizing warning against sloth gives way, in Fragonard, to a romantic notion of dreams and flights of fancy. Sleeping is at once a mundane, universal human act as well as an innocent escape into the world of the imagination.
Baronne de Ruble, Paris; Madame la Baronne de Ruble, Paris; Alfred Beurdeley, Paris (Lugt 421 at the lower right on the recto); Beurdeley sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, 13-15 March 1905, lot 71, ill. (to Ernest Cognacq); Ernest Cognacq, Paris; Gabriel Cognacq, Paris; Cognacq sale, Galerie Charpentier, Paris, 14 May 1952, lot 1, ill.; Mrs. Walter Feilchenfeldt, Zurich. Acquired by Robert Lehman from Feilchenfeldt in April 1965.
Eunice Williams. Drawings by Fragonard in North American Collections. Exh. cat., Washington and Cambridge, MA, 1979, pp. 124-125, cat no. 48.
Pierre Rosenberg and Katharine Baetjer. "Ex. cat.: Grand Palais, Paris, 24 Sept. 1987-4 Jan. 1988 and Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2 Feb.-8 May, 1988." Fragonard. Exh. cat., Paris and New York, 1987, pp. 530-531, cat no. 271.
Louis-Antoine Prat. La Dessin Français au XVIIIe siècle. Paris, 2017.