November 27, 2022


Adorn your Feelings

Fragonard at the National Gallery

6 min read


Jean Honore Fragonard (1732-1806) became a single of the most common painters of the French Rococo model. The courts of King Louis XV (1715-1774) and Louis XVI (1754-1793) were being identified for their luxurious and extra. Although it was the age of Enlightenment, with Voltaire seeking spiritual toleration and Diderot publishing the first encyclopedia, Fragonard’s patrons required scenes of festivals, mythological enthusiasts, and entertainments, typically with sensual implications.

“Blind Man’s Bluff” (1775-76)

Fragonard’s patrons often requested collection of paintings in groups of 4 or five. The Countrywide Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.) consists of four of these paintings. “Blind Man’s Bluff” (1775-76) (85’’ x 73’’) depicts a huge back garden of a French estate. Underneath a blue sky with fluffy white clouds, two fountains, official flower beds, a wide variety of tall trees, marble colonnades, and a properly-groomed garden supply a romantic and breath-taking environment. At the right, associates of the celebration appreciate a luncheon buffet though they view a recreation of blind man’s bluff. Closer in, a pair enjoys sitting on the grass as they way too seem on.

The marble fountain at the still left spurts large into the air. The feminine figures that form the foundation of the fountain may well represent the Vestal Virgins, Roman maidens who served the goddess of the Fireside, Vesta. Their position was to see that the sacred fireplace of the fireplace in no way went out. To be a Vestal Virgin, a younger woman was essential to just take a vow of chastity. Another statue of a girl can be seen on a hilltop at the right. Far too tiny to identify, it is likely a statue of the goddess Vesta, or quite possibly Athena, who routinely is depicted donning a helmet because she is both equally the goddess of knowledge and war. 

Blind Man’s Bluff” (detail)l

The major attraction is the blind-folded younger female in a white gown, who turns awkwardly all over striving to discover just one of her pals. Other individuals in the social gathering dodge to stay out of her reach. The game is entertaining, but its depiction is supposed to advise the issue of locating a ideal husband or wife. Or, specified the presence of the Vestal Virgins, perhaps the information would be it is greater to continue to be single. In the length many others delight in this pleasurable park.

The Swing” (1775-76)

“The Swing” (1775-76) (85” x 73”) is the companion to “Blind Man’s Bluff.” The viewer can see the matching trellis of pink and pink bouquets at the reduced remaining and ideal corners of the two paintings when they are hung aspect by side. The foliage of the trees also offers a steady check out across the paintings. A youthful woman, dressed in pink and gold, sits on the swing. She raises her still left hand to greet her close friends. The swing is pulled with a rope by a gentleman who stands concerning the two fountains, the h2o flowing from the mouths of the lions. At the remaining corner, a gentleman in environmentally friendly and a lady in pink engage in with their kid in the lion fountain. Her close friends observe from the garden and speak with one one more.

At the right corner of the painting, a lady in purple and her companion sit on a marble system. She is looking by a telescope. As well close to be utilizing the telescope to glimpse at her close friend, she appears to look off into the distance. What is she searching at? Or additional appealing, what is she hunting for? 

Is this Fragonard get the job done just an additional wonderful scene of people acquiring pleasurable, or could there be yet another interpretation? Paired with the blind-folded girl in search of a mate, the again- and-forth motion of the swing and the pulling on the rope advise the culmination of the act of appreciate. Even though these ideas ended up slight, other of Fragonard’s paintings, for instance his “Swing” of 1766, leave no doubt about the intention of the artist with regard to the needs of his patrons.

“A Game of Horse and Rider” (1775-80)

“A Activity of Horse and Rider” (1775-80) (45.5” x34.5”) again depicts a scene set in a large backyard. On the other hand, this yard is purely natural, not formal, as is the topic subject. The casual garden does not have not effectively-built flower beds, or thoroughly arranged marble walls. The trunks of the tall birches at the left aspect crisscross just about every other, achieving substantial into the sky, with their, leaves fanning out. At the proper facet an aged gnarled tree, lacking most of its leaves, is silhouetted from the sky. There are no paths, and the grass meets a winding stream, the place in the distance a gondola pulls up to the shore to allow off travellers who have appear to get pleasure from the working day. 

The figures in the foreground also deliver contrast. The adults at the still left of the scene lounge quietly on the grass, engaged in conversation. Over and above them a youthful boy runs, feet traveling and arms elevated in anticipation of leaping into the video game. The rowdy recreation of horse and rider requires area below to the previous tree. 

“A Sport of Horse and Rider” (depth)

The activity of horse and rider is manufactured up of two groups. The multi legged horse team braces itself versus the tree. The riders race in and leap on to the horse. It is then the position of the horse to try out to shake off all of the riders. This attained, the teams trade spots. It is a tough and tumble video game for boys. Meanwhile, the young male and girl may be speaking about a afterwards “tussle” of their personal.


A Activity of Hot Cockles” (1775-80)

“A Video game of Very hot Cockles” (1775-80) (45.5” x 34.5”) is the companion piece to “A Activity of Horse and Rider.” There is evidence that these paintings were being cut down to make them shorter. Having said that, the dates and matter make any difference recommend they were a element of the exact sequence, or of a really related series by Fragonard. He developed lots of of these painted series. Both equally paintings depict a few lounging on the grass and partaking in private discussion. The gardens distinction the normal with the official, and have paths at the center that lead into the distance. The “Hot Cockles” garden is formal, with built beds, techniques top to a path, and sculptures. A younger few sits on a stone bench at the left. 

“A Recreation of Warm Cockles” (depth)

A video game of very hot cockles is staying played by a energetic team of youthful individuals at the suitable facet of the painting. The game of scorching cockles, has almost nothing to do with cockles and muscle mass, but was a sensuous handle. The “penitent,” the male dressed in gold, kneels in advance of a younger girl, placing his head on her lap. How frequently would this have occurred? His hand placed on his again, he endures other players having turns slapping his hand, or his bum. It is his work to choose who has slapped him. In this occasion, he seems to issue at possibly the girl in blue or the other girl who huddles with her. Of course, the “penitent” can misidentify who has slapped him in purchase to go on to bury his experience in the woman’s lap.

Two sculptures are positioned in the backyard. The figure of a girl at the remaining is most probably a goddess, but not so recognized. At the proper, on top of the pedestal is the properly-recognized sculpture titled “Menacing Cupid” by Etienne Maurice Falconet. Cupid holds his finger to his lips, and he watches the naughty game.

Fragonard’s travels to Italy, like several visits to its gorgeous parks, gardens, and fountains, remaining an indelible mark on his creativeness. Even though the four paintings in the Nationwide Gallery were being not painted in Italy, they mirror Fragonard’s enthusiasm for his issue. He painted with a fluid brush stroke very well suited to the charm of his figures and their settings. He is described by artwork historians as a virtuoso. 

Beverly Corridor Smith was a professor of art heritage for 40 decades.  Given that retiring with her partner Kurt to Chestertown in 2014, she has taught artwork record classes at WC-ALL. She is also an artist whose get the job done is sometimes in exhibitions at Chestertown RiverArts and she paints sets for the Garfield Centre for the Arts.


Source website link | Newsphere by AF themes.