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Jean-Honoré Fragonard

Jean-Honoré  Fragonard

(1732 - 1806)
Born: Grasse, France
Style: Rococo
Famous Works:
  • The Swing (1767)
  • Young Girl Reading (1776)
  • The Stolen Kiss (c. 1788)
Jean-Honoré Fragonard's paintings represent the height of Rococo art, with their brilliant coloring and loose brushstrokes. Fragonard was a student of François Boucher, a leading French Rococo artist in the mid-eighteenth century. From Boucher he learned his playful approach to whimsical subjects. Fragonard's painting, Jeroboam Sacrificing to the Golden Calf, earned him the prestigious Prix de Rome at the age of twenty. Prix de Rome winners were awarded a three to five year stay at the French Academy in Rome, and in 1756 Fragonard moved to the academy for what would be a four year stay. It was after his time at the Academy, in 1760, that Fragonard toured Italy with Hubert Robert, sketching the romantic Italian gardens which would inform his artistic vision for years to come. In 1765 he returned to France and settled in Paris, where King Louis XV became an admirer of his artwork, particularly his historically themed paintings. The King's admiration earned the artist studio space in the Louvre. The fashionable subject of historical themes soon became a bore for Fragonard, who set out to lend aspects of levity to his work. He painted The Swing in 1767. The painting demonstrates beautifully his highly energized and spontaneous line and luscious palette. In addition, the work's main figure, a woman soaring on a swing, petticoats whirling around, embodies a sensuality which patrons welcomed. Fragonard enjoyed considerable success at this point in his career. Building on the themes he developed in The Swing, he executed portraits of men and women dressed in costumes of such incredible design that the paintings have come to be known as "fantasy portraits". He is considered a Rubínist, emphasizing the colors of a painting to convey merit over line, so that any common man could appreciate the work. Fragonard's popularity dwindled as the French Revolution gained strength, and he stopped painting to return again to the Louvre in the capacity of administrator for the young museum.
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