Jean Honoré Fragonard

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Fragonard, Jean Honoré

 

Born Apr. 5, 1732, in Grasse, Provence; died Aug. 22, 1806, in Paris. French painter and graphic artist.

Fragonard studied under J. B. Chardin and F. Boucher in Paris. From 1756 to 1761 he worked in Italy, where he drew several series of landscapes depicting the environs of Rome and Naples. Early in his career, Fragonard painted historical scenes, for example, Corésus and Callirhoé (1765; the Louvre, Paris). However, his interest in the tangible yet fleeting nature of reality and in spontaneous emotion attracted him to genre, landscape, and portrait painting.

While continuing the traditional style of Boucher’s fetes galantes and occasionally paying tribute to the conventional intricacy of rococo art, Fragonard nonetheless achieved a unique aura of intimacy and emotional intensity in his lyrical scenes of everyday life, including that of the lower classes, and in his poetic depictions of nature. His works are distinguished by fresh and elegantly decorative color, deft and impassioned brushwork, and flowing rhythm. Such paintings as The Swing (1766; Wallace Collection, London), The Fête at St. Cloud (1775; Bank of France, Paris), and Women Bathing (the Louvre) are brimming with sensuous, full-blooded joie de vivre.

Some of Fragonard’s works gently mock the mincing languor of their subjects, notably The Stolen Kiss (the Hermitage, Leningrad), while others express a sincere but somewhat sentimental compassion, for example, The Poor Family (the A. S. Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow) and The Farmer’s Children (the Hermitage). Refined chiaroscuro characterizes his numerous drawings in sanguine, bistre, and occasionally sepia, as well as his etchings.

During the French Revolution, Fragonard served as curator of the National Museum and judged art exhibits.

REFERENCES

Livshits, N. A. Zhan-Onore Fragonar. [Moscow, 1970.]
The Paintings of Fragonard. Edited by G. Wildenstein. [London, 1960.]
Ananoff, A. L’Oeuvre dessiné de Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732–1806), vols. 1–4. Paris, 1961–71.