November 16, 1942
Private Collection, Nice, lot 75
May 28, 1954
Galerie Charpentier, Paris, lot 69
June 10, 1956
Galerie Fischer, Lucerne, lot 10
December 3, 1988
Galerie Pierre-Yves Gabus, Geneva, lot 129
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Ruins of an Imperial Palace, Rome
Jean-Honoré Fragonard (French, 1732 - 1806)
Rome, Italy (Place Depicted)
Red chalk on cream-colored paper
33.5 × 47.6 cm (13 3/16 × 18 3/4 in.)
As a student at the Académie de France in Rome, Jean-Honoré Fragonard was encouraged to sketch Roman sites in the open air. In this view of the Palatine Hill's northeast corner, a site also sketched by his friend Hubert Robert and by François Boucher, Fragonard created a powerful visual momentum by coordinating the forward thrust of the corner of the palace, the brilliant sunlight, and the towering cypresses. The dynamic, plunging perspective of walls and trees and the intense light infuse the massive architecture with life.
Fragonard masterfully used both chalk and paper to create the overall effect and the varied small passages. Overall, he worked the red chalk lightly yet broadly, allowing the white of the paper to come through even in areas of deepest shading. His controlled exposure of the paper's whiteness, the constant shift of direction and character in his shading strokes, and his inventive calligraphy describe sunlight, shadow, and texture in diverse ways.