Portrait of a Youth

Théodore Chassériau (French, 1819–1856) 

Portrait of a Youth, ca. 1845 

Black chalk on blue laid paper 


A precocious talent, the young Chassériau was already a student in the atelier of Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres by 1831 at the age of twelve. He rapidly became Ingres’s favorite pupil but declined to accompany the master when he accepted the directorship of the French Academy in Rome. Ingres later disavowed his pupil because he felt that Chassériau’s art had evolved away from Classicism to the Romanticism of Eugène Delacroix, which Ingres abhorred. 


Chassériau was a gifted draftsman, as can be seen in this idealized rendering of the head of a youth. It is drawn with simplicity and restraint, yet it is full of sensitivity.