After Sale of the 9th Auction
After Sale Price: € 1.896
Grasse 1732 – 1806 Paris, Circle of
Study of a putto
Oil on paper
20.5 x 18.5 cm, with frame 25 x 23 cm
Inscribed on the reverse
This lovely study of a putto is a wonderful example of a high-quality rococo painting that captivates the viewer with its luminosity and fine brushwork. The naked boy is shown in three-quarter profile and gazes raptly past the viewer. The bulging little arms are raised as if in a playful dance. Pert red-gold curls frame the chubby face. The pink colour accents of the well-formed ear, the eyelids, the small snub nose, and the slightly open mouth are painted in a virtuoso manner. The skin parts are further enlivened by blue-tinged colour nuances and white highlights. A pastel contrast is the soft blue of the background. A closer look at the brushwork reveals a loose style that alternates coarse, expressive brushstrokes with precise, delicate lines. This is particularly evident in the light accents of the hair as well as in the soft rendering of the skin areas.
The putto does not have the usual waxy porcelain skin of rococo painting but is brought to life and sparkles with childlike verve. This style of painting is typical of the circle of the French master painter of the Rococo period, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, who departed from his teacher François Boucher in the execution of the figures and even extended his style of painting. He also liked to show his figures in three-quarter profile and gave them a lively appearance with flushed faces. He also knew how to depict the worldly bustle through expressive gestures. Also typical are the dark brown outlines, which are drawn very thickly in skin parts that lie in the shade and thus particularly emphasise the plasticity of the figure. The painting “Les Baigneuses” from 1765-70 (Louvre MI 1055), which shows a bather in a similar pose, can be seen as a comparison. Furthermore, the subject of the painting is related to “The Progress of Love: Love Pursuing a Dove” from c. 1790/91 (The Frick Collection 1915.1.52): here a small cupid with a similar facial physiognomy pursues a dove. Nevertheless, the study presented here is more finely and luminously executed and evinces an enchanting elegance.
Jean-Pierre Cuzin, Fragonard. Leben und Werk, Œuvre-Catalogue of the Paintings, Munich 1988.
David Wildenstein (ed.), The Complete Works of Fragonard. Kunstkreis, Lucerne 1976.
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