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 Jean-Honore Fragonard  (1732 - 1806)

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About: Jean-Honore Fragonard
 

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Lived/Active: France      Known for: voluptuous female, history painting

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BIOGRAPHY for Jean-Honore Fragonard
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Birth
1732 (Grasse, France)
 
Death
1806

Lived/Active
France


Self portrait -


Often Known For
voluptuous female, history painting

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Jean-Honore Fragonard was born in Grasse, in Provence, France in April 5, 1732. He was the son of a glove maker, and was brought to Paris by the age of five. He was at first a notary clerk but showed little disposition for that profession. His artistic talent was never in doubt, and in 1747 he gained acceptance as an apprentice in the studio of Francois Boucher.

At first Boucher paid little attention to him and passed him along to Chardin, but a year later he relented and took him on for four years. His formal education consisted of studying at a school within the Louvre for exceptionally gifted students under Carle van Loo and later at the French school in Rome. There he was captivated by Tiepolo's incandescent paintings. In 1752 Fragonard, only twenty years old, won first prize in the Prix de Rome with a wonderful theatrical piece. He entered the Academy in 1765 with a painting that was the last time he would devote to history painting in the grand style.

On his return to Paris in 1761 he found a wide market for engravings of his work and a demand for his paintings from clients who ranged from Madame du Barry to the energetic art dealers. He had particular success with so-called "amorous" pictures: voluptuous young girls, couples kissing as well as scenes of children and family life. He turned out landscapes, and portraits as well. By the 1770s Fragonard enjoyed a reputation as the most fashionable decorative painter in France. Yet his lopsided reputation as a "naughty painter" alienated the public.

Fragonard hated pomp. "Frago" was what he liked best to be called. He was considered to be a free spirit and many of his paintings mirrored that description, He was able to work very quickly and freely, claiming he could paint a "fancy portrait" in an hour. But at the time of the French Revolution, tastes changed, and he was rejected by Madame du Barry and others. He was abandoned in favor of other lesser painters, and he died poor in 1806 of a stroke. His work remained in obscurity until around 1840 when collectors started buying up his paintings again.


Compiled and submitted August 2004 by Jean Ershler Schatz, artist and researcher from Laguna Woods, California

Sources include:
'Fragonard, Rococo or Romantic?' by John McEwen in "Art in America", February 1988
Aline Saarinen in "McCall's Magazine"
'Fragonard's Fancies' by Lisa Liebmann in "ARTnews", February 1988

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at registrar@AskART.com.

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