An exceptional ink, wash and graphite portrait of a gentleman by Henri-Joseph Hesse ( ), dating from circa 1820, the time of the Bourbon restoration in France.
Active as a draughtsman, painter and lithographer, but perhaps best known as a miniaturist, Henri-Joseph Hesse was a pupil of Jacques-Louis David and the painter and miniaturist Jean-Baptise Isabey. He exhibited intermittently at the Salons between 1808 and 1833, making his debut with a painting of A Young Woman Watching a Sleeping Child. At the Salon of 1810 he showed portraits and a number of miniatures, and won a second-class medal. Hesse travelled to Germany in 1815, but was back in Paris by the following year. Hesse became known in particular for his miniatures, although he also gained some important commissions for official portraits, notably one of the Duchesse de Berri, which was exhibited at the Salon of 1819. He won another medal at the last Salon in which he took part, in 1833. Hesse also produced a number of lithographic portraits. Works by Henri-Joseph Hesse are today in the collections of the Versailles Castle, the Muse Cond in Chantilly, the Fondation Custodia (Frits Lugt Collection) and the Louvre in Paris, as well as the Morgan Library and Museum i New York, the Museo Lzaro Galdiano in Madrid and the Museum Briner und Kern in Winterthur. (Credit to Stephen Ongpin Fine Art for much of the biographical information on the artist).
Ink and wash and graphite on toned paper in oval shape, measuring 24 x 18 cm. It is executed in a style very typical for Hesse, with the clothing painted in wash and the face kept in graphite, giving the work an interesting and unusual intensity.
Toning, light wear, minor losses to the paper under the mount. The drawing is signed and dared indistinctly 1823 (?) to the centre left. It may be a preparatory study for a lithograph. The overall framed size is 35 x 30 cm.
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