FRANÇOIS BOUCHER | HEAD-AND-SHOULDERS STUDY OF A YOUNG WOMAN WITH A BIRD ON HER RIGHT WRIST
Paris 1703 - 1770
HEAD-AND-SHOULDERS STUDY OF A YOUNG WOMAN WITH A BIRD ON HER RIGHT WRIST
Black and red chalk and pastel;
signed and dated, lower left: f. Boucher 1768
12⅛ by 9¼ in.; 312 by 240 mm.
Laid down on the remains of an old (possibly 18th Century) mount, which has subsequently been hinged to a modern mount. There is some slight toning to the sheet and a horizontal old crease to the lower edge. The combination of media remains in otherwise delightful condition with the image fresh and vibrant. Sold in a decorative giltwood frame.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.
Jacques Doucet, Paris;
His sale, Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, 5 June 1912, lot 3;
Where acquired by Sultan Bey;
With Arhold, Inc., Monte Carlo
M. Tourneux, "La collection Doucet: pastels et dessins", Les Arts, December 1904, p. 26, reproduced;
P. de Nolhac, Boucher premier peintre du roi, Paris 1907, p. 168;
A. Ananoff, L'Oeuvre Dessiné de François Boucher (1703-1770), Paris 1966, vol. I, pp. 115-116, cat. no. 377, reproduced fig. 78
This delightful sheet, full of Rococo sensibility and beautifully executed in a combination of black and red chalk and abundant pastel, is a highly characteristic example of one of Boucher’s preferred subjects – that of a coquettish young woman gazing at a songbird, in this instance perched on her wrist.
The drawing, which is signed and dated 1768, depicts a beautiful young woman in profile, with her hair intricately braided and adorned with a pink posy. A songbird perches on her wrist, and she stares wistfully down towards it, listening to its song. Her clearly defined, yet delicate profile can be compared, both in appearance and stylistically to a similar sheet depicting the Head of a Young Woman, in the collection of the Harvard University Art Museums.1
The song bird, as seen in the Rohatyn sheet, was clearly a motif of which Boucher was particularly fond. Indeed, there are at least three engravings, by Jean Daullé (L'oiseau chéri),2 Gilles Demarteau (Tête de Diane à la colombe)3 and Jean Jacques Flipart (L'Oiseau privé)4 after designs by Boucher, that similarly feature this particularly attractive combination of subject matter. The present work does not correspond precisely to any of these engravings and the manner in which it is drawn, a combination of energetic draughtsmanship coupled with highly finished passages, suggests that this drawing may have been intended as a finished work of art in its own right.
We are grateful to Alastair Laing for endorsing the attribution to Boucher upon first hand inspection of the drawing, and for his assistance in the cataloguing of this lot.
1. Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Art Museums, Inv. no. 1978.29
2. P. Jean-Richard, L'oeuvre gravé de François Boucher: François Boucher dans la collection Edmond de Rothschild, Musée du Louvre, Cabinet des Dessins Collection Edmond de Rothschild, Inventaire général des gravures: École français, I, Paris 1978, p. 169, no. 580, reproduced
3. Ibid., no. 836, reproduced
4. Ibid., no. 1011, reproduced