Le Paresseux [The Lazy One]
36 cm x 27.6 cm (14 3/16 in. x 10 7/8 in.)
(Mulhouse (Alsace), 1788 - 1839, Mulhouse (Alsace))
(Paris, 1774 - 1833, Rome)
Medium and Support:
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Purchase through the generosity of the Still Water Foundation, 1994
Guérin’s lithograph is part of a series of six executed between 1816 and 1819 in response to an assignment from the Institut de France asking the artist to explore the expressive potential of the new medium. Invented in Germany in 1798, lithography was first used primarily as a means to reproduce music and scripts. Its use in making images was still somewhat experimental and not yet fully embraced by the art establishment.
This work shows an allegory of the debate between neoclassical and romantic artists over whether antiquity or nature should serve as the model for art. Seduced by nature, a classically trained artist discards his tools (the palette and brush), leaving his talent and fame unrealized.