Art Wednesday

Jean-Honore Fraginard (1732 - 1806)
Artist during the Rococo period

The Rococo period is known for its lavish and over-the-top works of art and architecture - the pieces were elaborate and fussy and many of the works of Fraginard fit this definition - just look at The Happy Accidents of the Swing and you can see what I mean. I am not a fan of this period however I do like the the painting "A young girl reading" and "Visit to the nursery" as they are far less elaborate and have some stillness in them. These he did after he was married.

Fragonard produced more than 550 paintings (not counting drawings and etchings), of which only five are dated.
The Happy Accidents of the Swing
The Swing depicts a young man hidden in the bushes, watching a woman on a swing, being pushed by her husband. Her husband is hidden in the shadow, as he is unaware of the affair.  The young lover is peaking at her legs.  This painting was commissioned by the lover, a nobleman, and was highly successful not only becuase of its technical success, but for the scandal behind it.  It is now considered as one of the masterpieces of the Rococo era.

This painting and those similar shows the moral state of France at the time.  It really isn't much different to the trashy magazines available today that show photos of affairs by Hollywood actors.  The only differences is the technical skills required were outstanding compared to anything today.

The love letter
It is believed that this painting was shown to Madame du Barry (Louis XV mistress) in an attempt to win a commission to paint decorative panels. 
 The Blind man's bluff game
A young girl reading
The painting features an unidentified girl wearing a yellow saffron dress, however though x-ray it has been revealed that the canvas originally featured a different image which Fragonard painted over!

After Fragonard married he stopped painting the scandalous paintings like The Swing, Love Letters and Blind-Man's Bluff and began to paint children and family scenes and even returned to religious works of art.  
 Visit to the nursery
Unlike "The Swing" this painting is a scene of ordinary family life.  However there has been some debate on the subject.  According to one website the scene comes from a Jean Fran├žois de Saint-Lambert's popular novel of 1765 in which a well-bred beautiful young English girl falls in love with a humble but educated Scottish farmer and they live happily ever after on a farm away from the city. You decide.  The painting attempts to show the virtues of honesty and sincerity and satisfaction of parenthood.
Chatting with the Angora
This is a painting of one very odd looking cat that is looking in to a mirrored ball!!


Fraginard's granddaughter was Berthe Morisot, the first female French Impressionist painter (1841-1895) and her best known work is the one below (The Cradle). Her brother-in-law was Edouard Manet another French Impressionist artist.



  1. Dear Sister,
    Chatting with the Angora - angora, is a type of rabbit, this the ear size!! but a strange picture none-the-less! Google angora rabit, some odd rabbits they are too. LL S

  2. I really like the painting of the girl reading. That's very pretty. But I don't enjoy the fussiness of the others so much. It's a bit 'over the top' -like some furniture from the same period.
    I've been wondering Jo, do you paint too?
    You have encyclopedic knowledge about this lovely art form :-)

  3. Dear Trish, As a teenager I use to draw and paint and did art history and art at high school. I don't anymore but one day I would love to go back to drawing.

    I am a huge fan of history and art often tells the story of history in pictorial form, just as newspapers and internet does today.

  4. I knew Girl on a Swing & actually really like this painting ~ no not for the naughty bits. ☺ I really like the way the light falls through the trees & the bluey/green shades & the way the girl is all lit up by the light in that gorgeous peachy/salmon coloured frock. Not my favourite period either but it has its moments.

  5. Jo,
    Oh, I love the nursery painting. I've never seen this one before. And, the girl reading....well, that's definitely a favorite of mine. Thank you for the wonderful details!


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