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Two young women are fast asleep under an enormous tree while an ominous male figure hovers above them.

Surrounded by large dark trees and earth, two fair-skinned women sleep partially nude, with flowing drapery covering their hips. One leans against the other with her head tucked into the other’s shoulder as they face the viewer. A muscular male figure emerging from the shadows, leans in and stares into the face of the woman in foreground who’s reclined, her head thrown back in deep sleep. He has a receding hairline, pointed nose, and goatee beard. The three figures form an illuminated triangle set against the dark landscape.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Jean Michel Liotard, Swiss (Geneva, Switzerland 1702 - 1760 Geneva, Switzerland)
After Jean-Antoine Watteau, French (Valenciennes 1684 - 1721 Nogent-sur-Marne)
Dangerous Sleep
Other Titles
Original Language Title: Le sommeil dangereux / Somnus Periculosis
Series/Book Title: Recueil Jullienne
Work Type
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Etching and engraving
sheet: 62.5 × 47 cm (24 5/8 × 18 1/2 in.)
plate: 38.6 × 30 cm (15 3/16 × 11 13/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: in plate, lower margin, left: A. Watteau pinxit.
  • inscription: in plate, lower margin, right: M. Liotard Sculp.
  • inscription: in plate, lower margin, left and right: LE SOMMEIL DANGEREUX / Gravé d'aprés le Tableau original Peint par Watteau. / haut de 2. pieds sur 1.pied 6. pouces / de large. // SOMNUS PERICULOSUS / Scalptus juxtà Exemplar à Watteavo depictum / cujus altitudo 2. pedes et latitudo 1. pedem cum / 6. conlinet.
  • inscription: in plate, lower margin, centered: a Paris chez la Veuve Chereau rüe St. Jacques aux 2. pilliers d'Or Et chez Surugue graveur rüe des Noyers vis a vis St. Yvres. A.P.D.R.


Recorded Ownership History
Hugh Lupus Grosvenor, 1st Duke of Westminster, Eaton Hall, Cheshire, by 1884, by descent, sold [through Christie's, London, July 15, 2015, lot 172]; to private collection, United Kingdom, sold [through C. G. Boerner LLC, New York], to; Harvard Art Museums, 2017

State, Edition, Standard Reference Number

Standard Reference Number
Dacier & Vuaflart 38

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Richard Norton Memorial Fund
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art

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Verification Level

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