Watteau to Degas: French Drawings from the Frits Lugt Collection
October 6, 2009, through January 10, 2010
Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732–1806)
Portrait of Fragonard Seated in an Armchair
Black chalk, over black chalk underdrawing
The Latin inscription at the bottom of this sheet can be translated as “Fragonard drew himself in Bergeret’s home in the year 1789.” Fragonard’s host was his friend Pierre-Jacques Bergeret de Grancourt, a wealthy financier whose father had been one of the artist’s most fervent patrons. Fragonard was fifty-seven at the time, and we see him cross-legged and casually posed — perhaps recording his reflection as it appeared in one of his host’s mirrors. From contemporary documents we know that Fragonard was four feet eleven inches tall, had gray hair and eyebrows, a wide forehead, a medium-sized mouth, and a round chin — details captured in this most summary of self-portraits.