Saturday, July 23, 2011

Favorite Artist #2 – Jean-Honore’ Fragonard (1732-1806) France

A Young Girl Reading

Although this painting is part of the “Rococo” period, it is anything but frivolous. The young girl is enraptured by her book. She has a serious look on her face. Her mind is soaring with vivid scenes of her own imagining.

True to its Rococo roots, the rest of the painting is flamboyant and colorful. The painterly ruffles on the dress, the folds in the gown and pillow are expertly done. It is obvious that Fragonard enjoyed painting them with curved gracefulness, elegance, and flourish.

According to once source” in “Young Girl Reading” Fragonard depicts a young woman on the brink of leaving behind quiet domesticity for an exciting life outside her walls; a life which she only imagines and knows through books.”

Another painting of a young girl reading illustrates this same kind of energy and promise. Many of his paintings seem to capture the feminine spirit and its yearnings. He seems fascinated by femininity itself and the power of “feminine wiles.”

Women during this time period had few choices open to them. They were expected to marry young, bear children, and spend their time in service to their families. For a brief period of time, the affluent were able to study or travel until the time that they entered into an “arranged” marriage.

Each painting tells a story. Fragonard’s sets up a narrative, and we are drawn into the story he depicts; our mind tries to fill in the blanks. This is exactly what all successful paintings do.

As with my last blog, I have interspersed my own paintings some of which may reflect the influence of Fragonard.