This chalk drawing is attributed to engraver and draughtsman Charles Grignion the elder. It shows a man wearing breeches, a three-cornered hat and straight-cut coat, with powdered and queued hair (platted at the back). The man stands in a relaxed pose, leaning on his walking cane or sword, with his hands on his hips. The drawing was presented to the British Embassy, Washington, by American publisher, philanthropist and diplomat Walter Annenberg (1908-2002) in January 1989.
It has been suggested that the work was drawn by Thomas Gainsborough and the name ‘Gainsborough’ is inscribed on the drawing itself. However, art historian Elizabeth Einberg reattributed it to Charles Grignion the elder in 1999. The drawing bears a strong resemblance to a chalk study on blue paper in the British Museum, London, which is inscribed: ‘Thos. Grignion of Great Russell St Covent [Garden] Drawn by Charles Grignion Senr 1737 on Thomas's return from Paris, aged 24 years’. This work may be another early example of the artist sketching his elder brother, Thomas (1717-1784), who followed their father in becoming a watchmaker. Thomas would later have a son; the history and portrait painter Charles Grignion the younger (c.1753-1804).
Charles Grignion the elder was born in London; the son of a watchmaker. He briefly studied in Paris, under French engraver and draftsman Jacques Philippe Le Bas, before continuing his training at Gravelot's drawing school in Covent Garden. He later worked mainly as a historical engraver and book illustrator. In 1748 he made the earliest engraving of a cricket match ‘from a Picture painted by Mr. Hayman’. He also produced architectural plates for William Chambers's ‘Designs for Chinese Buildings’ (published 1757) and for James Stuart and Nicholas Revett's ‘Antiquities of Athens’ (published 1762). In 1765 he became a member of the committee of the Society of Artists. Grignion worked into his late eighties, but died in poverty in Kentish Town.
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