Alexandre-Evariste FRAGONARD (Grasse 1780 - Paris 1850)
A Centurion Begging for Protection from Marc Antony during a Seditious Revolt Sold
Pen and black ink, with brush and grey and black wash, over traces of an underdrawing in pencil, with framing lines in black ink. Laid down. Signed fragonard-fils invenit at the lower left. Inscribed DU TEMS DES GUERRES DE ROME DES SOLDATS / DANS UNES SEDITION PRIRENT UN CENTURION ILS VOULOIENT LE MASSACRER IL SE JETTA / AUX PIED D’ANTOINE QUI LE PROTGEA ET REPRIMA LA FUREUR DES REVOLTE. at the lower centre. 204 x 481 mm. (8 1/4 x 18 7/8 in.)
ACQUIRED BY THE HARVARD ART MUSEUMS, CAMBRIDGE, MA.
Given its pronounced Neoclassical flavour, the present sheet is likely to date from the first part of the artist’s career. Evariste Fragonard was fond of such long, frieze-like compositions in his drawings, which seem to have been intended to replicate sculpted bas-reliefs. As Jacques Foucart has noted of the artist, ‘in his work neo-classical features are combined with a taste for moving pictorial effects and beams of light, inherited from his father as well as from northern painters...His Neo-Classicism was all the more pronounced by the fact that Alexandre-Evariste was also a sculptor and designed many ornamental patterns for Sèvres.’ Among comparable scenes from ancient history, treated in the manner of an antique relief, is a drawing of Two Women and a Youth Before a Seated Philosopher in the Louvre, as well as a very large exhibition drawing of The Infant Pyrrhus at the Feet of Glaucias, signed and dated 1814 and also in the Louvre.Fragonard also produced a number of similar frieze-like drawings for subjects taken from more recent history, such as his designs for several bas-reliefs depicting Napoleonic victories, drawn around 1810 and intended to decorate the Palais Bourbon, now the home of the Assemblée Nationale, but never executed. Stylistically comparable drawings are also found in many of Fragonard’s brilliant designs for the Sèvres porcelain factory, typified by seventeen drawings of Napoleonic subjects, drawn in 1832, as well as designs for five narrative reliefs, executed in 1810-1811, for the decoration of a porcelain column dedicated to Napoleon’s Polish campaigns and manufactured at Sèvres.
Anonymous sale, Paris, Hôtel Drouot, 12 June 1992, lot 58Anonymous sale, London, Sotheby’s, 26 February 1998, lot 577W. M. Brady & Co., New York, in 1999Private collection, USA.