This charming portrait is relatively small, at around half a metre tall and wide. The artist would have chosen these dimensions because of the relative lack of detail within the painting, with little visual interest in the background. All of the attention is placed on the outfit of the boy, as well as his facial features. It may therefore have been completed relatively quickly and with only a few study artworks. One of the playful, charming elements of this portrait is that the boy's outfit is completely oversized, far too large for his own dimensions at this young age.
The oversized outfit reminds us all of bringing up children, and how one buys them clothes to grow into, such is the speed at which they develop. There is also a sweetness around seeing him look out to us, aware of the sleeve which protrudes over his hand. It is believed that the outfit worn by this child model was from a theatre production. Dutch art is known to have featured similarly dressed up portraits, where only the head and upper body is shown, so perhaps this French painter had taken influence from that.
At around this time, Fragonard was creating a large number of portraits, some of which were much smaller than this, such as miniatures to be used in pendants. The Wallace Collection holds a number of these, as well as his most famous painting of all, namely The Swing. Their display of Fragonard's paintings remains the best in the world and also his reputation helps to attract thousands of visitors every year to this gallery which sits just off Oxford Road in a popular part of central London in the English capital. Supporters of this artist within the UK would do well to spend an afternoon at this unique art venue.