Louis Lagrenée (French, 17251805)
Red chalk; 15 5/8 x 19 15/16 in. (39.7 x 50.6 cm)
Harry G. Sperling Fund, 1985 (1985.112.1)
This sheet is of a kind sometimes called an academy, that is, a carefully executed drawing of a nude in a studio pose. Although academies were standard exercises for young artists, they were also produced by established draftsmen like Lagrenée, who was a professor at the Académie Royale at the time this drawing was made.
As was typical, the model assumes a posture inspired by other works of art. The brooding expression and arrangement of the legs recall figures by Michelangelo, making Lagrenée's drawing both a study of the pose from life and an homage to the earlier master. The sharp contour and compact musculature give the figure a sculptural quality which is further enhanced by the hatching used to describe the volumes of the body and the shadows cast by the left arm and right leg.