Nicolas Lancret (Paris 1690–1743 Paris)
Two Women Dressed “à la grecque” with a Subsidiary Study of a Head, late 1720s
Red, black, and white chalk on light brown laid paper
7 1/4 × 9 1/2 in. (185 × 240 mm)
Promised Gift from the Collection of Elizabeth and Jean-Marie Eveillard
Photo Joseph Coscia Jr.
Urged by his mentor Jean-Antoine Watteau to draw figures and combine them to form paintings “of his own choice and imagination,” Nicolas Lancret produced a number of drawings of independent figures that could be recombined in various ways against a landscape. Part of a suite of a dozen sheets depicting the same subject, known as la belle Grecque (the beautiful Greek)—often combined with le Turque amoureux (the amorous Turkish man)—this drawing in fact represents a woman dressed in Polish costume, whom the artist used as a stock figure in several paintings. Described by the Goncourt brothers as “the most delightful Lancret in the world” when they purchased it in 1858, this drawing was reproduced in print by Jules de Goncourt himself.