(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.)


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.

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.

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


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