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Rococo and Revolution: Eighteenth-Century French Drawings
October 2 through January 3, 2010

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Louis-Roland Trinquesse (ca. 1745–ca. 1800)
Study of a Lady of Fashion
Red chalk
14 13/16 x 10 1/16 inches (376 x 254 mm)
Purchased on the Sunny Crawford von Bülow Fund 1978; 1990.16

A painter of portraits and gallant genre scenes, Trinquesse also specialized in drawings of fashionably costumed women in domestic surroundings during the last decade of the eighteenth century, concurrent with the rise of Neoclassicism. Sheets such as this one suggest the survival of attractive and seemingly frivolous subjects through the Revolution. Like many artists, Trinquesse also produced revolutionary images, including portraits of republican martyrs.

Antoine Watteau (1684–1721)
Seated Young Woman
Black, red, and white chalk on oatmeal-colored paper
6 7/8 x 8 1/8 inches (174 x 206 mm)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Eugene V. Thaw; 2000.53

This sheet is one of at least seven surviving drawings grouped as a series that eventually developed into Woman at Her Toilet, the painting of about 1719, now in the Wallace Collection, London. At first the model was fully dressed seated in a chaise longue (Fondation Custodia, Paris); then she was sketched partially undressed and apparently asleep on the chair. In three studies, including this one, the model is clad only in her chemise. Here, Watteau eliminated the chaise and brought the model—arranged in a complicated pose, leaning forward attentively—into heightened focus, concentrating on the play of light on her bare legs and shoulders.

Antoine Watteau (1684–1721)
Temple of Diana, 1716
Red chalk
10 1/2 x 14 1/4 inches (267 x 362 mm)
Purchased on the Sunny Crawford von Bülow Fund 1978; 1980.9

Some time after leaving Gillot's studio in 1706, Watteau went to work with the ornament designer Claude Audran. Under Audran's influence and with his own innate taste for color and light decoration, Watteau fell under the spell of the newly emerging Rococo style, producing a number of designs for decorative arabesques. The inventiveness of the artist's imagination is displayed here in the proliferation of decorative motifs and ideas, occurring so rapidly that he summarily sketched in alternates as well. At one side the arch becomes a Rococo arbor supported by herms; at the other it is transformed into a stone structure culminating in a fantastic shell-like decoration.

Antoine Watteau (1684–1721)
Seated Young Woman
Black, red, and white chalk on buff paper
10 x 6 3/4 inches (255 x 172 mm)
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1911; I, 278a

Watteau is best known for his rapidly executed figure studies in trois crayons, using red, black, and white chalks. This sheet is an exceptional example of his mastery of the technique and embodies such immediacy and energy that one does not notice at first that the artist did not include the lower half of the woman's right leg and foot and failed to indicate the base on which she is seated. Trimmed from a larger sheet, the original may have included multiple studies.

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Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.