The Sultan, Jean Honoré Fragonard (French, Grasse 1732–1806 Paris), Brush and brown wash over black chalk underdrawing

The Sultan

Jean Honoré Fragonard (French, Grasse 1732–1806 Paris)
Brush and brown wash over black chalk underdrawing
14 1/4 × 11 1/4 in. (36.2 × 28.6 cm)
Credit Line:
Bequest of Catherine G. Curran, 2008
Accession Number:
Not on view
Despite its traditional title, this sheet represents not a sultan but a model dressed in Turkish attire. Posing and drawing figures in exotic costume was a long-standing tradition at the Académie de France in Rome where Fragonard had studied—a practice connected both to masquerades and to the training of young history painters. However, this sheet dates to 1774, when Fragonard visited Rome a second time, this time in the company of his patron, Pierre Jacques Onésyme Bergeret de Grancourt. As with many of his brown wash drawings of the 1770s, the wash here is intentionally diluted, its transparency leaving visible the freely executed black chalk underdrawing.

A modern copy of this drawing, once considered to be the original, is also in the museum's collection (1972.118.213).
Inscription: in pen and brown ink at lower right, "Roma/ 1774"

Marking: collector's mark of Baron Vivant-Denon (Lugt 779)
Desmarets , his cessation of business sale (lugt 5555), Paris, March 17, 1797 (lot 85, “[u]n turc assis, dessin lavé au bistre”); Dominique Vivant Denon (French); his estate sale (Lugt 11164); Alexis-Nicolas Pérignon Paris, May 1–19, 1826 (lot 729); Baron Brunet-Denon , his estate sale (Lugt 18011), Bonnefons de Lavialle, Hôtel des Ventes Mobilières, Paris, Feb. 2-15, 1846 (part of lot 271); Bonnefons de Lavialle Hôtel des Ventes Mobilières, Paris, February 2-5, 1846 (part of lot 271); Lord Currie and Mrs. Betram Currie ; sale, Christie's, London, June 29, 1962 (lot 46); acquired at the sale by Mrs. Catherine G. Curran, London; Donor: Mrs. Catherine G. Curran
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Fragonard: Drawing Triumphant," October 6, 2016–January 8, 2017.

Alexandre Ananoff L'oeuvre dessiné de Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732-1806): Catalogue raisonné. vol. 2, Paris, 1963, cat. no. 758, fig. no. 209, p. 80.

Pierre Rosenberg, Claudine Lebrun Jouve Les Fragonard de Besançon. Exh. cat., Musée des beaux-arts et d'archéologie de Besançon, Besançon, Dec. 8, 2006-Apr. 2, 2007. Besançon, 2006, cat. no. 84 bis, fig. no. 85 a, p. 154.

Perrin Stein "A Tale of Two Sultans, Part 1: Fragonards Real and Fake." The Metropolitan Museum Journal. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, vol. 44, 2009, fig. no. 2, pp. 121-29, ill.

Perrin Stein, Marie-Anne Dupuy-Vachey, Eunice Williams, Kelsey Brosnan Fragonard--Drawing Triumphant. New York, 2016, cat. no. 57, 182-83, ill.

Louis-Antoine Prat Le Dessin Français au XVIIIe siècle. Paris, 2017, 699.