Study of a Lady, ca. 1785
Black and white chalk, some stumping, on light brown prepared paper
19 1/2 x 12 1/4 inches (495 x 311 mm)
In this richly worked sheet by the brilliant English portraitist, the billows and satiny sheen of the fabrics are evoked in broadly applied white chalk, with gently smudged black chalk suggesting shadows in the deep folds. Single strokes of chalk representing lace at the neckline and ribbons falling from the waist were applied with supreme confidence, making the drawing seem almost to vibrate with energy. Once thought to be Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire (1757–1806), the subject remains unidentified.