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The Competition for the Prize for the Study of Emotion
Concours pour le prix de l'étude des têtes et de l'expression

Jean-Jacques Flipart, French, 1719 - 1782. After a drawing dated 1761 by Charles-Nicolas Cochin the Younger, French, 1715 - 1790.

Made in Paris, France, Europe


Etching and engraving

Plate: 9 1/8 × 11 inches (23.2 × 27.9 cm)

Curatorial Department:
Prints, Drawings, and Photographs

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Purchased with the W. P. Wilstach Fund, 1958

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In 1759 the Royal Academy instituted a competition requiring students to draw the head of a model showing a specific emotion--in this case, gentleness. Although the Academy regularly employed nude male models for advanced drawing students to sketch academies, it was only for this competition that the Academy hired female models, who posed for the students fully dressed. (The use of nude female models for academy studies was not common until the nineteenth century.)

Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    To improve neglected skills, in 1759 the French Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture funded a yearly prize for the student's work that most convincingly conveyed a suitably lofty emotion as expressed on a model's countenance. Here, amid the casts of antique sculpture lining the classroom walls, Charles-Nicolas Cochin sets aside his own high rank in the Academy to join the drawing students around the posing platform to record the contest held in 1761. A telling draughtsman himself, Cochin seems less interested in the model's becalmed features (douceur, or gentleness, was the emotion assigned) than in catching unawares the students diligently absorbed in the task at hand, as well as his own bored colleagues who patiently monitor the three-hour session. The core of the Museum's collection of more than one thousand works by Cochin is an annotated portfolio of 69 drawings and 758 prints, including 525 rare proofs. Assembled in chronological order by a contemporary of Cochin, the portfolio is a unique document of the graphic oeuvre of this prominent figure in French art circles during the reign of Louis XV. John Ittmann, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 221.

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