Jean Antoine Watteau (French, 1684–1721)
Black, red, and white chalk
9 1/2 x 5 3/8 in. (24 x 13.8 cm)
Robert Lehman Collection, 1975 (1975.1.763)
In the rapid spontaneous execution of this sheet, Watteau's mastery of the trois crayons or "three-chalk" technique is fully evident. Freely mixing red, black, and white chalk, he captured the young woman's loosely pinned-up hair, luminous flesh tones, and the sheen of her dress. Her high cheekbones, broad forehead, and pointy chin all suggest a favored typeor modelappearing frequently in Watteau's oeuvre. The figure does not seem to have been used in a painted composition and the woman's gesture is not easily understood, although her elegance and charming lack of self-consciousness come through clearly.