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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Jean-Honoré Fragonard, French (Grasse 1732 - 1806 Paris)
Sketchbook from the Italian Period
Work Type
c. 1759-1761
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Marble paper-covered boards and black leather spine; thirty pages of off-white antique laid paper
cover: 18 x 25 cm (7 1/16 x 9 13/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: front cover, verso, black ink: This sketchbook with its original drawings by / FRAGONARD, the greatest of the French painters / of the Eighteenth Century comes to me directly / from the Fragonard family [?] having purchased / it from Georges Huot, son of Emilie Françoise / Huot, and grandson of Théophile Fragonard.

    The drawings of mythological and biblical subjects / are original compositions by Fragonard made / during his Italian period after he had won / the "Prix de Rome". Fragonard's early drawings are / as his biographers have noted exceedingly rare. This / is the greatest collection of them that ever turned / up. Here we see the young Fragonard in the period of / his classical training; yet immediately apparent are / the genius of his draughtsmanship, the facility in composition / and often the very charm of the Fragonard of later years. / These drawings should be published as a most important / contribution to the record of the French art of the 18th century / George S. Hellman
  • inscription: front cover, verso, in right margin, black ink: This note / applies to the / separate / compositions / which were / pasted on the / leaves of the / sketchbook / when they were / removed and / the sketches / beneath / them were / revealed. / G.S.H.
  • inscription: back cover, recto, left part of the page, black ink: The initials "G.H." are those of Georges Huot, / Fragonard's great-grandson. The numeral "71" / presumably indicates that this sketchbook / was the 71st item in Georges Huot's / collection of paintings and drawings by / by Hubert Robert, Lancret, Watteau and the two Fragonards, his grand father / and his great-grandfather. / The initials "B.F." are presumably [word underlined] / those of Bernard Franck, [an arrow points toward a complementary inscription in black ink, to the left of the present one: "Or, and much (?) better, / a member of the Fragonard family. / G.S.H."] to whom / Georges Huot had at one time / consigned this sketch book, and / to whom he wrote a letter of / certification concerning its / authenticity as the sketch book / of Jean Honoré Fragonard / George S. Hellman / 1931.
  • inscription: back cover, recto, right part of the page, black ink: NOTE : / as of today, only about 30 sketches remain / in this book. The most important ones / are, in my opinion, the seated man, the / page showing a reclining woman, by Fragonard / with its copy by his son, whom he was / teaching to draw; and the group of / swift sketches, some of them possibly / as compositional notes for use in later drawings or paintings. If, as has / been suggested to me, the final red / crayon drawing is a self portrait this / sketch is also of importance. / George S. Hellman / Aug 29, 1957
  • inscription: back cover, recto, upper right corner, graphite: monograph "AEF" (?)
  • inscription: back cover, recto, upper right corner, graphite and black ink: 71 / gH


Recorded Ownership History
Jean-Honoré Fragonard, by descent?; to his heirs. Georges Huot, his great-grandson, sold; to George S. Hellman, New York, sold [through Kende Galleries, New York, April 10, 1952, lot 75]. Ira Spanierman. Martin Reymert and Gerald Norman, New York and London, sold; to Fogg Art Musuem, 1968

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Louise Haskell Daly Fund
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art

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Publication History

  • George S. Hellman, "Fragonard's Long Lost Italian Drawings Come to Light", Art Digest (February 15, 1932), vol. 6, no. 10, pp. 21, 32, pp. 21, 32
  • Georges de Batz, Landscape Painting from Patinir to Hubert Robert, exh. cat., Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, 1941), cat. no. 59
  • Eunice Williams, Drawings by Fragonard in North American Collections, exh. cat., National Gallery of Art (Washington, 1978), cat. no. 15 (.18 recto, .27 verso, .28 recto repr.)
  • Master Drawings, auct. cat., Sotheby's, New York (November 21, 1980), under cat. no. 29
  • Old Master Drawings including Property from the Collection of the British Rail Pension Fund, auct. cat., Sotheby's, New York (January 8, 1991), under cat. no. 10
  • Eunice Williams, "Gens, Honorez Fragonard!": Works from the Collections of Harvard University and Harvard Friends, brochure, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, 1993), checklist no. 2
  • De Watteau à Ingres. Dessins français du XVIIIe siècle du Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, exh. cat. (Paris, 2003), pp. 202, 307
  • Marie-Anne Dupuy-Vachey, Fragonard, Editions Terrail (Paris, 2006), p. 169
  • Under Cover: Artists' Sketchbooks, website, Harvard University Art Museums, 2006,
  • Ewa Lajer-Burcharth and Elizabeth M. Rudy, ed., Drawing: The Invention of a Modern Medium, exh. cat., Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, 2017), pp. 138, 283
  • Colin B. Bailey, Fragonard: The Heights of Drawing, New York Review of Books (February 9, 2017), under note 9, [accessed 2/7/2017]
  • Jean-Honoré Fragonard's Very First Version of "L'enfant chéri", auct. cat., Galerie Malibran (Paris, 2023), p. 7

Exhibition History

  • Drawings by Fragonard in North American Collections, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 11/19/1978 - 01/21/1979; Harvard University Art Museums, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 02/16/1979 - 04/01/1979; The Frick Collection, New York, 04/20/1979 - 06/03/1979
  • “Gens, Honorez Fragonard!”: Works from the Collection of Harvard University and Harvard Friends, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 05/15/1993 - 07/11/1993
  • Under Cover: Artists' Sketchbooks, Harvard University Art Museums, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 08/01/2006 - 10/22/2006
  • HAA 10 Survey Course: The Western Tradition, Art Since the Renaissance, Harvard University Art Museums, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 03/08/2008 - 04/06/2008
  • HAA 271x The Origins of Modernity: The "New" 18th Century Rotation #1: Large Niche (S426A) Spring 2011, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 01/14/2011 - 03/05/2011

Related Works

Verification Level

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