Jean-Honoré Fragonard Grasse 1732 - 1806 Paris
- Jean-Honoré Fragonard
- le petit garçon à la curiosité - a little boy with a curiosity, said to be a portrait of the artist's son alexandre-evariste (1780-1850)
- oil on copper
- 31 by 24 cm.; 12 1/4 by 9 1/2 in.
His deceased sale, Paris, Paillet, 12 December 1785, lot 41, sold for 400 livres (with its pendant);
Possibly Anonymous sale, 28 April 1790, lot 44 (sold with its pendant);
Presumably Prince Nicolai Borisovich Yusupov (1750-1831), Arkhangelskoye Palace, Moscow;
Prince Boris Nicolaievich Yusupov (1794-1849), Yusupov Palace, Saint Petersburg, by 1839, no. 239.;
Museum of Fine Arts (later Pushkin Museum), Moscow, Yusupov collection, until separated from its pendant and sold by the Russian government between 1932 and 1936;
With Galerie André Weil, Paris;
Acquired from the above by Léon Bloch in 1934;
Thence by descent until recently.
Inventaire du Musée du Prince Yousopov, 1839, p. 50, no. 239;
E. and J de Goncourt, L'Art du XVIIIeme Siècle, Paris 1882, p. 334;
Baron R. Portalis, Honoré Fragonard, sa vie et son oeuvre, Paris 1889, p. 285;
P. de Nolhac, J.-H. Fragonard 1732-1806, Paris 1906, p. 131;
Trésors de l'Art en Russie, vol. VI, 1906, pp. 200-201;
Inventaire de la collection Yousopov, 1920, no. 42;
S. Ernst, La Galerie Yousopov, Leningrad 1924, p. 126;
L. Réau, Catalogue de l'Art Français dans les Musées Russes, n.d., p. 78, no. 526;
Exhibition catalogue, Les dessins de Fragonard, 1931, under no. 61;
G. Wildenstein, Les peintures de Fragonard, London 1960, p. 315, no. 509, reproduced;
G. Mandel, L'opera completa di Fragonard, Milan 1972, no. 47, reproduced;
J-P. Cuzin, Jean-Honoré Fragonard. Vie et oeuvre. Catalog complet des peintures, Paris 1987, pp. 314-15, no. 288, reproduced (as whereabouts unknown);
P. Rosenberg, in the exhibition catalogue, Fragonard, Paris and New York, 1987-88, p. 565,under no. 297;
P. Rosenberg, Tout l'oeuvre peint de Fragonard, Paris 1989, p. 115, n.384.
At the time of the Véri sale in 1785, this painting was accompanied by a pendant of A young girl playing a marmotte, which was described as a portrait of the artist's daughter Rosalie (1769-1788). This is now in the Pushkin Museum, Moscow.1 A pair of versions on canvas of both paintings are today in the Portland Art Museum, Portland (Oregon)2 and a watercolour version of the latter is in the Graphische Sammlung Albertina in Vienna. Two further versions, both ovals and most probably copies, are now lost, as are two copies in pastel.3 The use of copper in Fragonard's oeuvre is rare; Cuzin dates this work to around 1775, and Rosenberg slightly later in the early 1780s. The identification of either subject as Fragonard's two children is not borne out by a comparison with existing likenesses. A curiosité was a box containing geological artefacts or perhaps precious objects.
This picture has the distinction of having belonged to two particularly notable collections of French 18th-century paintings. Louis-Gabriel de Véri Raionard, Marquis de Véri (1722-1785), was one of the most enlightened patrons of contemporary French art in the last years of the reign of Louis XVI. His collection included numerous works by Fragonard, including the famous Le Verrou (Paris, Louvre), the original study for which is sold as lot 71 in this sale. Similarly, Prince Nicolai Borisovich Yusupov (1750-1831) was a friend of Jean-Baptiste Greuze, Hubert Robert and Claude-Joseph Vernet, and he counted some exceptional French works in his collection. These included, for example, Boucher's Jupiter and Callisto and Lemoyne's Rape of Europa, both now in the Pushkin Museum, Moscow. A statesman and dipliomat, and one of the greatest of all Russian 18th-century collectors, he bought numerous works for the Russian Imperial collections and was later Director of the Hermitage.
1 See J.-P. Cuzin, under Literature, 1987, p. 315, no. 289.
2 Cuzin, op. cit., p. 314, nos. 286 and 287.
3 These may be the 'deux...dessin colorés par M. de St. Non représentant un jeune savoyard qui montra la curiosité et une marmotte copies d'après Fragonard' recorded by the Abbé de St. Non. For these see the exhibition catalogue, Fragonard, Paris & New York 1988, under no. 297.