Jean-Honoré Fragonard (April 5, 1732-August 22, 1806) was a French painter and printmaker, whose paintings are known for their discrete eroticism and intimacy. Some of his most important works include The Swing (1769), The Reader (1772), and Progress of Love (1771-73). He is considered part of the Rococo period. Fragonard's career was cut short by the French Revolution.

Fragonard was borne in Grasse, France. His artistic inclinations were first discovered while he was working in a Paris notary, and by the age of eighteen he was taken to study under renowned master of still life, Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin. He advanced quickly and moved on to work under Francois Boucher the following year.

In 1752, Fragonard's Jeroboam Sacrificing to the Golden Calf earned him the Prix de Rome. He was highly influenced by this trip, adopting the untethered strokes of the Dutch and Flemish painters he studied, and aspiring to the grandiosity that he witnessed in the works of Giovanni Battista Tiepolo.


Jeroboam Sacrificing to the Golden Calf

Fragonard was known to be a very rapid painter. Each of his brush strokes were made loosely, contributing to their air of gluttonous frivolity.

Fragonard studied at the French Academy in Rome, where he studied under Charles-Joseph Natoire. While in Rome, he became close with Hugh Robert and Abbé de Saint-Non. His painting Coresus et Callirhoe, which had gotten him into the Academy, was bought by King Louis XVI.


 Coresus et Callirhoe

He went on to have a prolific career painting for the aristocracy, the underlying sensuality of his pictures becoming something of a sensation. Some of his most important works include Blind Man's Bluff (1760), The Secret Meeting (1771), The Love Letter (1770), and Denis Diderot (1769).


Denis Diderot


Blind Man's Bluff


 The Secret Meeting

Once the French Revolution was underway in 1789, many of Fragonard's patrons were either executed or exiled, so he went back to Grasse where he continued to receive commissions. By the time he returned to Paris in the early 19th century, there was hardly a life for him, and he died of a stroke shortly after while eating ice cream in 1806.


The Love Letter


The Stolen Kiss

Additional Info

  • Birthday Date: Saturday, 05 April 2014
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