Grasse 1780 – 1850
Le Défi pastoral (Idylls VIII)
Signed and dated fragonard fils 1795 lower left.
183 x 140 mm – 7,2 x 5,51 in.
Provenance – Matthew Rutenberg, New York.
This remarkable drawing, with its tensed execution and original composition, is part of a series of preparatory works for the illustrations of a book of pastoral poems supposedly written in the 4th century before JC by the Greek poet Theocritus, Idylls. It reveals the precocity of his author, Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s son Alexandre Évariste, who exhibited his first drawings at the Salon as early as 1793. At the age of 14 years old, the young artist, who trained with his father and with David, took part with Boichot, Lebarbier and Moitte in the illustrations for the 1795 publication of the Idylls (translation by JB Gail). He performed about ten drawings amongst which one only one was used for the publication. Three of these works were exhibited at the Salon, framed together. With a striking sense of composition, Alexandre-Évariste succeeded in combining graphic precision and narrative intensity in this sculptural image.
Condition report – Excellent condition. Laid down on a sheet of paper, probably removed from a book which helped to preserve the drawing intact.