Profile Portraits of an Elderly Couple
18th century, Pencil and pastel on paper
These two amusing portraits of a robust, bourgeois man and his wife are a characteristic example of a type of depiction that was very fashionable at the end of the 18th century and was appreciated by a middle-class public accustomed to images that verged on caricature. The technical rendering in pencil and pastel emphasises the contours of the forms, a soft line of black pencil delimits the space of the background and, in the male portrait, transitions from dark grey to a lighter tone give the impression of a light source. The figure of the woman, in contrast, is completely homogenous, almost as if to emphasise her compactness. The anonymous draughtsman is not lacking in a bit of humour in the definition of the expressions of the couple and some elegant details, such as the small locks of hair escaping from the wife's wide bonnet or the wrinkles on the husband's forehead.