Inscribed on verso, in graphite, "par J. Boilly".
After 1800, Louis-Léopold Boilly specialized almost exclusively in genre scenes. For these finished compositions, he commonly executed preparatory drawings in black and white chalk on brown paper as in this example. Here a clown dressed in a ruff and Harlequin-inspired costume sneaks away an unidentified bulbous object, as a woman sleeps in a chair beside him. The clown raises his brow and puckers his lips, and he resembles a second clown (also with ruff and collar) featured in Boilly's humorous oil on canvas, Thirty-five Expressive Heads, c. 1823-28 (William I. Koch Collection, United States). While the figures are quite different in composition, it is clear that Boilly relied on his têtes d'expressions for later projects.
McCrindle, Joseph F., former owner.