This life drawing by the Belgian portrait painter, Alfred Stevens (1823-1906), dates to Stevens’ early artistic career in the mid-nineteenth century, when he was studying the human form. It shows a young male nude reclining on a sofa with his hand placed on his chin, his head looking down and eyes intensely focused, deep in concentration. The young man’s attractive features are shown in profile, which, together with his flowing locks of hair and twisted counterbalanced pose, recall classical depictions of nude male figures in relief.
Alfred Stevens was born in Brussels in 1823. He began his formal training in painting in his native town at the Academie Royale des Beaux-Arts, under Francois-Joseph Navez (1787-1869). In 1844, he pursued his studies in Paris, at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, drawing and painting under the guidance of Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867). Both teachers had been pupils of Jacques-Louis David (1788-1856). With this rigorous training in drawing and composition, the young Stevens won the jury’s medals at his first major public showings in Paris – the Salon of 1853 and the Exposition Universelle, two years later. However, it was only following the later exhibition that Stevens turned away from the more traditional subjects of history painting in order to concentrate on portraiture. Contemporary collectors, including the Vanderbilts from America, commissioned paintings from the artist.
Inscribed and dated ‘Atelier Roqueplan/ 13 Avril 1844’
Charcoal and white chalk on paper, framed
Dimensions: 22¾ x 13¾ In. (58 x 35 cm.)