Head of a Young Man (Study for L'Oiseau de passage)

Head of a Young Man (Study for L'Oiseau de passage)


Paul Gavarni

(French, 1804-1866)

Graphite and red chalk with stylus heightened with white on off-white woven paper

Support: Beige wove paper coated with a light gray ground, mounted along right edge to multi-ply board

Sheet: 23.6 x 16.6 cm (9 5/16 x 6 9/16 in.)

Bequest of Muriel Butkin 2008.352



Paul Gavarni made this drawing as a study for L'Oiseau de passage (The Bird of Passage), one of the lithographs in a series on Parisian courtesans that he produced for the newspaper Paris. The lithograph's title, L'Oiseau de passage, must refer to the young man since messieurs de passage were casual lovers a courtesan might take on to supplement her protector's regular support. This drawing was once part of the important collection of the artist's work amassed by the writers Edmond (1822–1896) and Jules (1830–1870) de Goncourt. The Goncourts believed Gavarni captured the essence of 19th-century life, and they cited this particular drawing in their Journal des Goncourt, where they called it "the study of this cruel redhead."

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