Study for a Portrait of Empress Joséphine, 1805
Black chalk, stumped in some areas, heightened with white, on blue paper; ruled in pen and black ink
9 3/4 x 11 7/8 inches (248 x 302 mm)
Bequest of Therese Kuhn Straus in memory of her husband, Herbert N. Straus
This is the definitive compositional sketch for Prud'hon's painting of 1805, now at the Louvre, that depicts Empress Joséphine seated on some rocks in the gardens of Malmaison. In the painting, however, Prud'hon altered the format from horizontal to vertical, giving greater emphasis to the trees already lightly indicated in the drawing. He also eliminated the lyre from the painting (in the drawing it can be seen at the right) and added an elegant red stole. Delacroix commented on the air of grave beauty and nobility, tinged with melancholy, inherent in the work, which he believed to be one of Prud'hon's masterpieces.