Jean–Honoré Fragonard (French, 17321806)
Red chalk; 13 3/8 x 9 1/8 in. (34 x 23.3 cm)
Gift of Mrs. Howard J. Sachs and Peter G. Sachs, in memory of Miss Edith L. Sachs, 1978 (1978.516.1)
This confident drawing of a seated man absorbed in his book is closely related to a group of portraitlike drawings made by Fragonard on his second trip to Italy (177374) sponsored by the fermier général Pierre-Jacques-Onésyme Bergeret de Grancourt. Drawn in a rapid, confident outline and shaded to convey tone and shadow, this drawing presents its subject with an admirable economy of means. Oddly cropped at the ankle, the sitter may have been observed by the artist across a table and partially obscured. The unconventional composition attests to the informality of the sheet.