[French, ‘sketch’, from the Italian schizzo]
A compositional sketch, painted or drawn, representing the first worked-out idea for a finished painting. The esquisse peinte (‘the painted sketch’) played an important role in the French academic tradition of historical, mythological, and religious painting from the 17th century onwards and became a particular subject of debate during the 19th century. The qualities of invention and technical freedom displayed in the esquisse were increasingly perceived to be at variance with the aridity of much ‘official’ art and, with hindsight, can be seen to have anticipated the looser handling of Impressionism. See ébauche.