Erotic depictions of women in drawing, painting, sculpture and photography from the dawn of man to the present.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Sleeping Venus by Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732-1806)

I haven't featured many of the works of Fragonard on these pages, which is something I need to remedy as he is one of my favourite eighteenth century painters. Here is A Young Girl Sleeping or Une jeune Italienne à demi-nue, couchée volupteusement sur un lit de repos, où elle s'endormie as it was described when sold in 1776 for a thousand livres (the equivalent of about £10,000 based on the value of gold then). This was an early nude by Fragonard, painted when he was in his most Boucheresque phase during his first trip to Italy from 1756 to 1761, so he would have been in his twenties at the time. In fact, it was the only nude he painted in this period but is a forerunner of the tastefully erotic work he would do later in life.

The picture disappeared from the record at the end of the eighteenth century and only reappeared in 2014 when it was put up for auction. Unsigned, due to a piece of luck it could be positively identified, as someone, at the original 1766 auction had made a quick sketch of the painting in their catalogue and this had been preserved in the Bibliothèque National. It was sold in 2014 for the comparatively bargain price pf $395.000.  Well worth the money!


  1. Beautiful! Would you ever consider posting some of your own art on here?

    1. I need to locate it in the loft, first!