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Portrait of a Young Woman
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Charles-Nicolas Cochin
French, 1781
Black chalk
6 5/16 x 4 1/2 in.
2001.41

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This fashionably dressed young woman sits back in a comfortably padded chair and turns her head, facing the viewer with a clear, direct gaze. She wears a ruffled white headdress perched on top of her upswept hair and an elegant dress with a large bow on the bodice. The triple layers of ruffles on her sleeves are fashionably arranged to match the lacy layers on her cap and the ruffles modestly draped around her neck. Using only black chalk, Charles-Nicolas Cochin created a dynamic composition out of a single figure. His delicate strokes suggest not only the silky texture of her dress, but also the softly dimpled flesh around her mouth and chin.

Greatly admired by his contemporaries, Cochin's draftsmanship was always praised for his technical perfection. He was a prolific portrait artist, producing over 250 portrait drawings, all of them small scale and with their sitters shown in the bust length format. This drawing was probably made as an independent work of art, and not in preparation for a painting. It might have been displayed in the private sitting room or bedroom of a house, perhaps as part of a group of family pictures.