Jean Honore Fragonard (Jean-Honoré Fragonard) is the last one of a group of great artists of Rococo.
Jean-Honore Fragonard was born on April 1732 in the south of France, in Grasse. The artist’s father, Francois Fragonard, was a glover. His business went badly: he tried to invest in a new profitable business, and it was not successful. Failures coerce him to move with his family to Paris. A teenager son, Jean-Honore, was initially set up as a junior employee in the notary’s office, but he worked very reluctantly there. Then the family decides to fulfill his cherished desire; they give the artist to the painter for training. To change a profession from a notary to an artist in the French craft of the XVIII century, meant only to change the specialty, to find different ways to earn for a living.
Young Jean-Honore is lead to the famous painter, François Boucher. But the illustrious master finds the young man insufficiently prepared for his workshop and advises him to arrange it for Jean-Baptiste Chardan.
Learning and working under the leadership of Boucher turned out to be happiness for Fragonard. Unrestrained decorativeness, ingenuity and constant improvisations, sensuality and hedonism of the teacher’s painting – all this Fragonard felt like his element. He so talentedly mimicked the style of the teacher, that sometimes it’s difficult to discern, where is Boucher, and where is Fragonard.
Key Ideas in painting. Famous paintings made by Jean-Honore Fragonard
The work of the master is inseparable from the fate of the French art of the 18th century, and describe the inner turns of his life and the problems of the environment that fell to his lot. Fragonard belongs to his era, but, retreating before the onslaught of classicism, he brought to the threshold of romanticism the immediacy of the vision, the painting of the imagination, the picturesque freedom.
The rococo style found its highest expression in Fragonard’s paintings. The artist became the direct heir of the French rococo virtuosos of the previous two generations – Antoine Watteau and Francois Boucher. Fragonard did not seek to adopt the melancholic refinement and psychology of Watteau, but more than compensated them with his contagious, sparkling cheerfulness. He was inferior to Bush in decorativeness, but he won in the expression and ingenuity of artwork.
The next drawings are the most important by Jean-Honoré Fragonard – that both overview the major creative periods, and highlight the greatest achievements by the artist: “The Seesaw”, “The Bathers”, “The Swing”, “The Writer”, “The Progress of Love: Love Letters”, “The Fête at Saint Cloud”, “The Bolt”.
“The swing” is not just the most famous, but truly significant work of art by Jean Honore Fragonard. We say “Fragonar” and mean “Swing” – and vice versa. What is more surprising, that the customer proposed a painting to a completely different artist at first.
Everything on the picture is permeated with an erotic rococo style. And everything is subordinated to the characteristic for rococo bizarrely curved lines: the white and pink dress, which resembles a cloud, is foaming with lace, the branches of trees are elegantly bent, and even the shoe seems to be flying along an ornate rocail trajectory.
“The stolen kiss”
In the 90s of the XIX century, the Hermitage received a masterpiece of the late Fragonard “The Stolen Kiss” in his collection, which was previously in the collection of the last King of Poland, Stanislaw August Poniatowski, and as compensation to Warsaw, Polka was given to Antoine Watteau.
This is a brilliant variation of the love story. The girl quickly ran out of the hall, where the society gathered to take her scarf, and at the same moment, she was in the arms of her lover. The expression of the heroine’s face reads bewilderment; it is noticeable that she has not switched from the atmosphere of the party in the living room yet. She was taken by surprise. And Fragonara excellently manages to capture this atmosphere of surprise, the sensation of the suddenness of the moment. This picture represents the confession of love.
“The progress of love”
In this image “The progress of love” describes the lovers – an earnest young man climbing up a ladder and a willowy girl with flowers in her hair and plunging décolletage – meet, presumably in secret. Contemporary theatre and ballet inspire Their somewhat exaggerated poses; both look off-stage, so to speak as if fearful they will be found out. Fragonard builds this dramatic tension in a painterly love triangle formed by the couple and the statue of Venus taking Cupid’s quiver of arrows that towers above them. He tries to represent man’s bluff, the musical contest with the love letter.
“The happy lovers”
“The happy lovers” represents that love is a strong positive-colored feeling (complex of feelings) directed at another person. According to the author, falling in love is accompanied by a narrowing of the consciousness, the consequence of which can be a distorted evaluation of the object of falling in love. Despite the positive coloration of the very feeling of falling in love, it can lead to strong negatively colored feelings, for example, when the object of love reacts negatively to the actions of the lover.