Black and white chalk with pastel
Support: Blue laid paper (partially faded to brown-green)
Sheet: 30.8 x 20.8 cm (12 1/8 x 8 3/16 in.)
John L. Severance Fund 1983.89
Catalogue raisonné: Besnard 119
This drawing resembles two pastel portraits that Maurice Quentin de La Tour made of Jacques Dumont during the 1740s, but one work shows the sitter about to paint, while the other shows him playing a guitar.
Maurice Quentin de La Tour specialized in portraiture, and was praised by his contemporaries for creating uncanny likenesses of his sitters. He often created these works using pastel, a rich and powdery drawing material. He took up the technique for this quickly drawn sketch, created directly in front of his friend, the painter Jacques Dumont. La Tour used the drawing as a guide for Dumont's face in two different large-scale portraits in pastel, one of which is in the Louvre in Paris. During the 1800s this sheet was owned by Edmond and Jules de Goncourt, the brothers who, as writers and intellectuals, championed the art of 18th-century France and helped to revive interest in La Tour and other artists from that period.
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