This engaging oil sketch is possibly a portrait study for a larger composition. The head is slightly tilted, and therefore not quite in profile, giving a sense of life to what could otherwise be a static composition. The fluent application of paint and confident, yet unfinished, nature of the work implies that the artist was perhaps painting from life. The fresh skin tones and overall bright texture of the paint reveal a spontaneity of approach.
It strongly echoes works of the Romantic style emanating from Parisian artist’s studios of the 19th century, such as Gericault or Delacroix. First defined as an aesthetic in literary criticism around 1800, Romanticism gained momentum as an artistic movement in France and Britain in the early decades of the nineteenth century and flourished until mid-century. Emerging as a response to the disillusionment with the Enlightenment values of reason and order in the aftermath of the French Revolution of 1789, early Romanticism was paradoxically largely shaped by artists trained in the neoclassical tradition.