Description & Technical information

Pen and black ink, with touches of watercolour and white heightening, over a red chalk counterproof.

The present sheet is a drawn over a red chalk counterpoof. Like Fragonard, Hubert Robert often made counterproofs of his drawings in both black and red chalk. This was an essential task, since by making a counterproof, any excess chalk dust – which otherwise might easily smear - would be removed from the original drawing. Often, the artist would then extensively rework the counterproof, adding pen, ink and wash and watercolour to create a finished, reversed version of the original composition; such is the case with the present sheet, which was likely to have been executed as an autonomous work of art for sale to a collector. The original red chalk drawing for the present composition is lost.

This finished drawing is inscribed as having been done in Genoa, which the artist presumably visited on his journey back to France from Rome in 1765. Only a handful of drawings or paintings of Genoese subjects by Robert are known, however. A painting of washerwomen by the staircase of the Palazzo Durazzo (now Durazzo Pallavicini) in Genoa, signed and dated 1772, was formerly in the collection of Felix Rohatyn and was recently sold at auction, while a related drawing in black chalk of the same scene appeared at auction in London in 1985. 

This drawing bears the drystamp of François Renaud, one of the leading mountmakers in Paris in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Working from a shop on the rue Feydeau in Paris, Renaud is thought to have also acted occasionally as a dealer in prints and drawings. 

Medium: Pen and black ink
Signature: Inscribed dessiné d’après nature à gènes in the lower margin.
Numbered 9486 on the verso of the old mount.
Stamped with the drystamp of the late 18th century mountmaker François Renaud (Lugt 1042) at the lower right corner.

Dimensions: 28.4 x 35.8 cm (11¹/₈ x 14¹/₈ inches)
Categories: Paintings, Drawings & Prints