(ATTR.) Anne-Louis Girodet (1767 - 1824)

A Standing Nude Woman Holding Her Left Breast Sold

Black chalk, with stumping, on buff paper.
462 x 356 mm. (18 1/8 x 14 in.)

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The languid pose of the figure in this large drawing is a characteristic of Girodet’s female nudes. Similar figures appear elsewhere in the artist’s oeuvre, notably in a Danae painted in 1798 for a hôtel particulier in Paris and today in the Museum der Bildenden Kunst in Leipzig and, in particular, a late painting of Pygmalion and Galatea, exhibited at the Salon of 1819 and now in the Louvre, in which the female figure is holding her breast in a similar way. Although a number of preparatory drawings for the figure of Galatea are recorded in the catalogue of the posthumous Girodet studio sale in April 1825, only a handful are known today. Two of these studies are comparable to the present sheet in style and handling; a black chalk drawing of Galatea in the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga in Lisbon and another large study of the same figure, accompanied by Cupid, in a New York private collection.

Parallels may also be found in other drawings by Girodet of mythological or allegorical subjects, such as preparatory drawing for a figure of Autumn painted in 1814 for the Chateau of Compiègne, known through a counterproof in the Musée Girodet in Montargis, or a rapid sketch for a composition of Pandora, also in the Musée Girodet, which includes a similar standing figure in the centre of the sheet. The present figure is also akin to the posed nude model in a drawing of a scene from antiquity depicting an artist in his studio, which was attributed to Girodet when on the Paris art market in 1972. Finally, it may be noted that a distinct resemblance in facial type is also found between the present sheet and a painting on porcelain of the Head of the Virgin, executed in 1834 by Athénaïs Paulinier after a design by Girodet, which is today in a private collection.

The purpose of this drawing, and the identity of the figure depicted, remains a mystery. While the gesture of a woman holding her breast was common in depictions of the nursing Virgin and Child, the present sheet cannot have been intended for such a composition.

Provenance:
Edwart Vignot, Paris
Anonymous sale, London, Christie’s, 7 July 1998, lot 258
P. & D. Colnaghi, in 1999
Mrs. John (Dodie) Rosekrans, Venice and San Francisco
Thence by descent until 2011.

Literature:
Julia Lloyd Williams, Rembrandt’s Women, exhibition catalogue, Edinburgh and London, 2001, p.256, under no.71, note 10.

Anne-Louis GIRODET

A Standing Nude Woman Holding Her Left Breast

644

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