front cover
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Jean-Honoré Fragonard, French (Grasse 1732 - 1806 Paris)
Sketchbook from the Italian Period
Work Type
c. 1759-1761
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
Jean-Honoré Fragonard, by descent to heirs?.
Georges Huot, great-grandson of J.-H. Fragonard, sold to George S. Hellman.
George S. Hellman, New York, sold at Kende Galleries.
Kende Galleries, 1952, sold at auction. sale, April 10, 1952, lot 75
Ira Spanierman.
Martin Reymert and Gerald Norman, New York and London, sold to Fogg Art Museum.
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, D.C., 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]

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!", 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

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