Artist: Antoine Watteau (French, Valenciennes 1684–1721 Nogent-sur-Marne)
Medium: Black, red and white chalk
Dimensions: 9 7/16 x 5 7/16 in. (24 x 13.8 cm)
Credit Line: Robert Lehman Collection, 1975
Accession Number: 1975.1.763
One of the most brilliant and innovative draftsmen of the eighteenth century, Watteau was an early exponent of the "trois-crayons" or "three-chalk" technique, which allowed his drawings to approach the rich coloristic effects of painting. This fetching study of a seated woman is a consummate example of his mastery of the technique. 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. The Lehman sheet is not known to be a preparatory study for a painting, but the model does reappear in at least one other drawing by the artist. Her gesture is not easily understood, although her elegance and charming lack of self-consciousness come through clearly.