In 1896, Charles Angrand withdrew to Saint-Laurent-en-Caux, near his mother, and devoted himself exclusively to drawing for the next ten years. He was inspired by the work of Seurat - who in turn had observed Millet's graphic work - and adopted his chiaroscuro technique here.
In November 1896, in a letter to Paul Signac, he wrote: "I am working on a series of images with children in different poses. You can see an example of one of them in old Le Barc's gallery" (in the 1890s, Le Barc de Boutteville, a Parisian art dealer, organised many Post-Impressionist exhibitions). There is nothing conclusive to show that Antoine Sleeping is this "example", as Angrand himself said that he only produced three drawings between June 1895 and December 1897, but dated them all 1896. On the other hand, he exhibited a drawing entitled Sleeping Child at the Durand-Ruel Gallery in 1899 that could have been this one.
Just like a photographer, the artist aimed for perfection in rendering chiaroscuro effects, mindful of the type of paper and the subtlety of tone. Tadée Natanson, in his account of the exhibition at the Galérie Durand-Ruel, in the La Revue blanche in 1899, highlighted the patience involved in Angrand's work, so evident in a drawing like this, "enveloped in an aura of infinite tenderness and enhanced by the purest solemnity".