I have always loved Jean~Honore Fragonard. He has long been a favorite of mine. A copy of his painting The Swing hung in our foyer for years and I remember being a little girl looking at it (my mother also a lover of all things French and an interior designer). After reading a wonderful post by Lauren of Marie~Antoinette's Gossip Guide to the 18th Century about The Pursuit by Fragonard, I thought I would post some of my favorite works. Enjoy!
The Portrait of a Woman with a Dog is related to an inventive series of imaginary portraits referred to collectively as the Figures de fantaisie. They feature archaic costumes and brushwork so rapid and undisguised that it would have previously been associated with oil sketches rather than finished works.
Fragonard's masterpiece is the series of large panel paintings commissioned by Madame du Barry, for the château de Louveciennes. While the iconography of the series continues to be debated by scholars, the subjects can generally be described as lovers in various stages of romantic involvement in lush, overgrown gardens full of mythological statuary, and cascading flowers. A dispute with du Barry led to the paintings being returned to him and replaced by another artist. After the French Revolution, he held administrative positions at the Louvre, but his work had fallen from favor and he died in relative obscurity and penniless in 1806.
The Stolen Kiss
His paintings are largely known for the scandal they created. For example, The Swing became an immediate success, not merely for its artistic excellence, but for the scandal behind it. The young nobleman is getting an interesting view up the lady's skirts, not only that, but she is being pushed by her priest-lover, shown in the rear.
In the same spirit are some other famous pictures, The See-Saw, Blindman's Bluff, The Stolen Kiss, and the Meeting. After his marriage in 1769, he began painting children and family scenes and even painted religious subjects. He stopped exhibiting publicly in 1770 and all his later works are commissions from private patrons.