Jean Honoré Fragonard (French, 1732–1806)
Black chalk over a black chalk counterproof
7 11/16 x 7 5/8 in. (19.5 x 19.3 cm)
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. John C. Weber, 1987 (1987.239)
In March 1761, just before returning to Paris from a five-year stint as a pensioner at the French Academy in Rome, Fragonard was sent to Naples by his friend and patron, Jean-Claude-Richard, the abbé de Saint-Non (17271791), to make copies after works of art. He made at least five copies after sections of Mattia Preti's ceiling in the Church of San Pietro a Maiella. One of Preti's major commissions, the ceiling depicted scenes from the lives of Saint Catherine and Saint Celestine V, set into various shaped stucco frames. This sheet is a counterproof, and therefore in reverse direction, of Fragonard's copy (Norton Simon Foundation, Pasadena), reworked by the artist in black chalk.