Fragonard, Jean-Honore

1732-1806

 

Fragonard, Jean-Honore

French painter whose scenes of frivolity and gallantry are among the most complete embodiments of the Rococo spirit. He was a pupil of Chardin for a short while and also of Boucher, before winning the Prix de Rome in 1752.
In 1765 Jean-Honore Fragonard became a member of the Academy with his historical picture in the Grand Manner Coroesus Sacrificing himself to Save Callirhoe (Louvre, Paris). Jean-Honore Fragonard soon abandoned this style, however, for the erotic canvases by which he is chiefly known (The Swing, Wallace Collection, London, c. 1766). After his marriage in 1769 Jean-Honore Fragonard also painted children and family scenes. He stopped exhibiting at the Salon in 1767 and almost all his work was done for private patrons. Among them was Mme du Barry, Louis XV's most beautiful mistress, for whom he painted the works that are often regarded as his masterpieces - the four canvases representing The Progress of Love (Frick Collection, New York, 1771-73). These, however, were returned by Mme du Barry and it seems that taste was already turning against Fragonard's lighthearted style. He tried unsuccessfully to adapt himself to the new Neoclassical vogue, but in spite of the admiration and support of David, Jean-Honore Fragonard was ruined by the Revolution and died in poverty.

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