Jean-Honore Fragonard (1732-1806)

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Jean-Honore Fragonard is remembered as a painter of dandy, lighthearted Parisians during the pre-Revolutionary era. Although Fragonard did not receive academic artistic training, he was able to study under great masters of the time such as Boucher, Van Loo and Chardin. He showed such promise, even as a young artist, that he won the Prix de Rome in 1752, and would eventually move to Rome to stay at the French Academy in 1755.


The Reader


Inspiration, 1769

It is said that it was during his stay at the French Academy in Rome that Fragonard became inspired by the gardens, fountains and mystical landscaping that would become a major part of his oeuvre.


The Swing, 1767


The Bathers


The Shepherdess, 1750

While in Rome, he studied under Tiepolo, and much of his work included mythological or historical figures as well as landscapes.


Le Combat de Minerve Contre Mars

Upon Fragonard’s return to Paris, he began to gain many patrons, including the Madame de Pompadour. He was accepted into the Academy in 1761, and continued to paint pictures of wealthy Parisians flamboyantly engaged in the light and airy high life.


The Love Letter



Fragonard continued to find relative success painting interiors, family portraits and receiving commissions until the onset of the Revolutionary War.


The Stolen Kiss


Portrait of a Young Boy


The Fountain of Love

Sadly, after the war, Fragonard no longer had a place in the contemporary art community. Art had become somber after the war and new art techniques were arising. His fun and whimsical style had become outdated and his patrons no longer sought him out. Fragonard died in poverty and relative obscurity shortly after being evicted from his apartment in 1806.


Portrait of the Artist’s Sister, 1780


Sketch, black chalk, c. 1780

Today, Fragonard finally receives the recognition that he deserved in life, and has been called one of the most original and brilliant painters of the 18th century. He is often compared to Rubens in the treatment of his models and subjects, and his work has become a major representative of the Lois XVI era in France. Today his work is housed in the Louvre and other collections in New York, Chicago and Boston…and perhaps even in your own home.


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