Jean-Honoré Fragonard

One of the last masters of the decorative rococo style, Jean-Honoré Fragonard was known for his bold, sketchy, spontaneous style of painting, even though he was also capable of producing very finished and refined works. While he initially concentrated on history painting, he was attracted to the lesser genres that allowed him to give free reign to this spirit. He even developed a new style of fantasy portraits, which were of real people in fancy dress.

Fragonard first studied under Chardin, whose stylistic inclinations were very different from his teacher. He completed his studies with Boucher and Carle van Loo at the École des Beaux-arts of the French Academy. He won the Prix de Rome in 1756, which entitled him to travel to Italy to study and work. He was closely associated with Hubert Robert with whom he would go on sketching expeditions. In 1765, he was accepted in the academy for his history painting of Corésu and Callirhoé. He had few official public commissions, but worked for a group of private patrons.

After the French revolution, this rococo aesthetic fell out of favour and Fragonard developed a more austere style of Neo-classical painting. Later in Fragonard’s career he was involved in administrative tasks at the Louvre.

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