French Drawings

  • graphite, chalk, and ink drawing of landscape with hills and trees, buildings

    Claude Lorrain (1600–82)
    Landscape with Trees and Buildings
    c. 1640–46
    Graphite, brown and gray wash, black chalk, brush, and dark brown ink
    Samuel Courtauld Trust: Princes Gate Bequest, 1978

    Born in the French region of Lorraine, Claude established himself in Rome as a highly innovative landscape painter. His distinctive drawings are characterized by a thoughtful mixture of media. In his depiction of trees on this study sheet the contrast and variation of graphite, chalk, ink, and wash convey a sense of texture and volume as well as the interaction between light and shadow.

  • black and red chalk drawing of standing man with large dark hat

    Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684–1721)
    Carmelite Friar, Standing
    c. 1715
    Black and red chalk
    Samuel Courtauld Trust: Princes Gate Bequest, 1978

    As the empty bag over his left shoulder suggests, this young lay brother of the Discalced Carmelite order is setting out to collect alms. Watteau first outlined the figure in red chalk before working up the contours in red and black, using both chalks as well as the neutral tone of the paper to suggest the various layers and folds of the friar's woolen habit, as well as the light falling across his downcast eyes and double chin.

  • black, red, and white chalk drawing of nude man holding bottle

    Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684–1721)
    Satyr Pouring Wine
    Black, red, and white chalk
    Samuel Courtauld Trust: Princes Gate Bequest, 1978

    Watteau rarely made preparatory drawings for specific figures in his paintings, but this vigorous study of a satyr with wineskins in both hands is an exception. It relates to a lost composition of Autumn, part of a decorative series of the Four Seasons commissioned for the dining room of the banker Pierre Crozat. The paintings were intended to be viewed from below, which dictated the curve of the satyr's body and his intense downward gaze.

  • pen, ink, and watercolor image of students in gallery drawing live models

    Charles-Joseph Natoire (1700–77)
    The Life Class at the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture
    Pen, black and brown ink, gray wash and watercolor, and traces of graphite, over black chalk
    Samuel Courtauld Trust: Witt Bequest, 1952

    As a history painter, Natoire was obliged to instruct students at the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture in Paris; here he has depicted himself in a red cloak at lower left correcting a pupil’s drawing. Other students are shown making life studies from the two nude models posed on the table in the center. The paintings on the walls and casts of antique statues, including the Farnese Hercules seen from the back at left and the Medici Venus opposite, serve as venerable prototypes.

  • red chalk drawing of woman in tree-filled landscape

    Hubert Robert (1733–1808)
    Terrace in an Italian Garden
    c. 1760
    Red chalk
    Samuel Courtauld Trust: Princes Gate Bequest, 1978

    Robert is known for his large red-chalk landscape drawings conceived as independent works. This view of an overgrown garden, populated by classical statuary and a pair of laundresses with a child, was long attributed to Robert's contemporary Jean-Honoré Fragonard; in the early 1760s both artists worked side by side in the environs of Rome.

  • red chalk drawing of young woman seated, looking to the right

    Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732–1806)
    Young Girl Seated
    Red chalk
    Samuel Courtauld Trust: Princes Gate Bequest, 1978

    The subject of this drawing is most probably Fragonard's sixteen-year-old daughter, Rosalie, who died three years later in 1788. Fragonard has allowed the irregularities of the chalk to dictate the quality of his marks, from the vigorous strokes in the sitter's bodice to the softer, less distinct lines of her slipping shawl. The drawing is signed and dated "frago.1785" at lower left; the date was read incorrectly as "1765" when the decorative cartouche was added by a later owner.

  • graphite drawing of reclining nude from behind, head not finished

    Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780–1867)
    Study for La Grande Odalisque
    Samuel Courtauld Trust, purchased with the assistance of The Art Fund and V&A Purchase Grant Fund, 1995

    This nude is a preparatory study for Ingres's painting La Grande Odalisque, commissioned by Queen Caroline Murat of Naples for her private apartments, now in the Louvre. When the painting was exhibited in Paris in 1819, critics attacked the figure for having "neither bones, nor muscles, nor blood, nor life." In this study, however, the artist concentrated on the weight and mass of the model's back, buttocks, and thigh, creating an almost sculptural sense of volume.

  • eleven pen and ink drawings of various figures and subject matter

    Théodore Géricault (1791–1824)
    Sheet of Figure Studies
    c. 1817–18
    Pen and two shades of brown ink over graphite
    Samuel Courtauld Trust: Witt Bequest, 1952

    This sheet of studies may have originally formed part of a sketchbook. Most of the groups, arranged in three rows, are reminiscences of military life under Napoleon. For example, the central frieze of figures at the bottom of the sheet shows a group of soldiers transporting large blocks of stone roped to a makeshift cart. This might relate to the unsuccessful storming of the citadel of Acre at the beginning of Napoleon's Egyptian campaign in 1799.

  • graphite drawing of standing female nude, drawn twice in different poses

    Eugène Delacroix (1798–1863)
    Sheet with Two Studies of a Female Nude
    Samuel Courtauld Trust: Princes Gate Bequest, 1978

    The nudes juxtaposed in this study relate to different projects on which Delacroix was engaged in the late 1840s. The figure combing her hair on the left is a preparatory sketch for Le Lever, a small painting inspired by Goethe's drama Faust and exhibited at the Salon of 1850–51. Delacroix's inscription at the bottom of the sheet suggests that the figure on the right represents Eve reaching for the apple.

  • black chalk, watercolor, and ink image of man on sickbed with two standing men

    Honoré Daumier (1808–79)
    Le Malade imaginaire (The Hypochondriac)
    c. 1850
    Black chalks, black ink wash, watercolor and touches of gouache, with pen and point of the brush in brown and black-gray ink
    Samuel Courtauld Trust: Samuel Courtauld Gift, 1934 

    Known for his acerbic caricatures, Honoré Daumier here interprets a scene from Molière's Malade imaginaire. A patient is visited by a doctor, who lectures self-importantly at the bedside. Terrified, the miserable man focuses his attention on the doctor's assistant, who holds an exaggeratedly large clyster, used to administer an enema.

  • red chalk drawing of seated woman holding towel to her chest

    Édouard Manet (1832–83)
    La Toilette
    Red chalk, contours incised for transfer
    Samuel Courtauld Trust: Courtauld Bequest, 1948

    Manet made this drawing in preparation for an etching, reversed as part of the printing process. The central figure's contours have been incised for transfer to the copper plate. The use of red chalk — unusual by the mid-nineteenth century — and the time-honored subject of the female bather reveal Manet's engagement with predecessors such as Rembrandt, whose works he admired. This preliminary drawing shows him experimenting with the position and pose of the figure behind the bather. Traces of his initial ideas are visible at upper left.

  • black crayon drawing of standing nude with one foot raised to opposite knee

    Georges Seurat (1859–91)
    Female Nude
    c. 1879–81
    Black Conté crayon over stumped graphite
    Samuel Courtauld Trust: Courtauld Bequest, 1948

    This female nude — one of very few Seurat drew — emerges from deep shadows. The contours of her body are defined by shading and stumping rather than by hard outlines. In contrast to the stillness of the figure, the background, composed of a web of vigorous crayon marks, vibrates with energy. The model's conventional pose suggests that this work may have been made in a life class, where her raised knee and hands would have rested on a chair.

  • graphite drawing of seated woman sewing at a table

    Paul Cézanne (1839–1906)
    Hortense Fiquet (Madame Cézanne) Sewing
    c. 1880
    Samuel Courtauld Trust: Princes Gate Bequest, 1978 

    In this pencil drawing of his companion and future wife, Cézanne explored the compositional possibilities of line and blank space. He laid in the figure with a combination of blocks of shading and blank areas. Daringly, the central section around the sitter's hands is left bare, although it is apparent that she is sewing; the viewers must therefore complete the picture in their mind's eye.

  • charcoal, chalk, and pastel image of seated woman in black adjusting hair

    Edgar Degas (1834–1917)
    Woman Adjusting Her Hair
    c. 1884
    Charcoal, chalk, and pastel, on two sheets of buff-colored paper
    Samuel Courtauld Trust: Courtauld Bequest, 1948

    This elegantly posed woman adjusting her hair may be a customer in a milliner's shop. Degas has rendered her in bold strokes of charcoal highlighted with luminous areas of pastel. The model's sinuous posture and the unusual angle contribute to the drawing's expressive power. Extensive alterations indicate that Degas rethought his initial ideas. The earlier design is visible along the curve of the model's back and right arm.

  • graphite and black chalk drawing of figure lying in bed

    Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864–1901)
    In Bed
    c. 1896
    Graphite and black chalk on laid paper
    Samuel Courtauld Trust: Samuel Courtauld Bequest, 1948

    Submerged in crumpled sheets, a woman lies in bed, barely awake. Only her face and stockinged feet are visible from beneath the bedclothes. Lautrec most likely drew the model — almost certainly a prostitute — from life. The slant of the model's gaze shows an awareness of the artist's presence and underscores the air of familiarity — indeed sympathy — with which Lautrec depicted society's outsiders.

  • graphite and watercolor image of apples, bottle, glass, and chair

    Paul Cézanne (1839–1906)
    Apples, Bottle, and Chairback
    c. 1904–6
    Graphite and watercolor on wove paper
    Samuel Courtauld Trust: Samuel Courtauld Bequest, 1948 

    This still life consists of a blue and white faience dish, filled with apples, placed at the center of the table. Five apples sit apart; a sixth seems to be about to join them. At left, a bottle with its neck truncated glows almost black; in front is a tall wine glass, painted blue to reflect the hues of the faience plate. Anchoring the composition in the background is the ornamental back of a wooden chair, which frames a view of the colored wallpaper in the background.

  • graphite drawing of seated woman with shirt open, wearing cap

    Henri Matisse (1869–1954)
    Seated Woman
    Samuel Courtauld Trust: Samuel Courtauld Gift, 1935 

    © 2012 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

    This is a preparatory drawing for the painting The Black Table, which Matisse produced in the summer of 1919, and depicts a young woman lounging in a wicker chair. The nineteen-year-old Antoinette Arnoux served as the model, and this drawing studies her at a level of detail that is lessened in the painting.


    * Reproduction, including downloading of Henri Matisse works, is prohibited by copyright laws and international conventions without the express written permission of Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

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