Like Toulouse-Lautrec, Louis Forain and Felicien Rops, Legrand is one of the great draftsman and printmakers of the turn of the century. Legrand's drawings of the can-can girls and the Moulin-Rouge were actually published prior to those of Toulouse - Lautrec. It is for the etchings of his ballet dancers that he is principally sought after but his works on paper of bohemian Parisian life, children and women and the cafes of Paris are equally intriguing.
Femme à la Collerette is a slight departure from many of Legrand's compositions which focus on the figure in fuller length. Clearly the collar the sitter is wearing was part of the inspiration and challenge for this drawing, as the angles of the ruffles and the unusually shaped hat are the focal point of this profile. Legrand has employed a technique often seen in Toulouse-Lautrec's color and line drawings where he judiciously has chosen to use saturated color and heavy black lines and then faint almost non-existent line in the details of her face, particularly for her eyes.
In addition he has used a great array of arm colors and rich tones in the background and then cool, gray and white ashen tones in the flesh. This effect draws attention away from the face and onto the collar and form created by the hat on her head. In many ways there is a curious relationship between this drawing and what we see in the early works of Picasso. There was a particular feel to works on paper in France between the years 1885 and 1910. Works on paper was where much of the avant-garde and genius of the time period emerged. Degas' ballet dancers, Berthe Morisot's pastels, Redon's pastels, and of course much of Toulouse-Lautrec's finest works are all on paper.
This work was possibly executed around 1900 and can be more accurately dated by the collar and style of the hat. It is a very complete drawing in its finished aspect of the background. This work is piquing in its use of color, and there is a psychological aspect to the shapes and forms created by the hat, ruffles and gray tone used in place of warm flesh tones in her face. Toulouse-Lautrec and Picasso were also masters of using odd colors in place of flesh tones to convey mood and sentiments such as melancholy.
Galerie Antoine Laurentin, 2008