Portrait of a Boy with a Book (c.1740s). Jean-Baptiste Perronneau (French, 1715-1783). Oil on canvas. Hermitage Museum.
Perronneau adhered to largely realistic principles. The appearance of this fragile youth, his vivid glance, expressing his attempts to understand some complex text or idea, reveals the child’s inner trouble. The soft, somewhat dull colour range recalls the pastel technique in which Perronneau preferred to work. At the Salon of 1746 this painting was described as “portrait of a young schoolboy, the author’s brother, holding a book,” which explains the warmth and tenderness of the artist’s depiction of the thin, pale boy.