The tradition of painting nude male figures in a studio setting was the cornerstone of artistic practice, teaching artists to depict the human body in complex poses in order to create larger narratives. However, by the late 1700s, some artists began to see these studies as independent works of art. By adding the wings and the poppies, Restout transformed his study into a more specific subject, and he first exhibited the work in a privately organized exhibition in 1783 under the title of Morpheus, the god of sleep.
CMA, December 1963 "Year in Review," Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art, L (Dec. 1963), p. 293, no. 88, repr. pp. 278-279.
New York, Wildenstein & Co., October 29, 1968- January 4, 1969: "Gods and Heroes, Baroque Images of Antiquity," cat. no. 15, pl. 38.
Toledo (Ohio) Museum of Art, 1975-1976: "The Age of Louis XV-French Painting 1710-1774," cat. no. 123, pl. 117 (catalogue by Pierre Rosenburg). Art Institute of Chicago, National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa).
Cleveland, Ohio: The Cleveland Museum of Art; March 14 - May 23, 1999. "A Painting in Focus: Jean-Bernard Restout's Sleep and the French Royal Academy," exh. cat. no. 1 (repr.).
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (3/20/2011 - 5/30/2011): "Neoclassicism: A Taste for the Antique, 1720-1790"