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Alexandre-Evariste Fragonard

1780 - 1850

Place Born

Grasse

Place Died

Paris

Bio

Alexandre Fragonard was the product of an extremely rich artistic background; he was the son of the great rococo painter Jean-Honoré Fragonard, the pupil of Jacques-Louis David, and the exact contemporary of J.-A.-D. Ingres. All these influences contributed to his artistic versatility and mastery as well as to the eclipse that his reputation suffered by comparison, and which is only recently being rectified. [1] During his lifetime, from his beginnings as a child prodigy in the 1790’s until his death in the middle of the nineteenth century, Fragonard was a prolific and well-regarded artist. His accomplishments spanned a remarkable range of artistic endeavors, including easel and large decorative painting, sculpture, architecture, [2]drawing, book illustration [3] and design for prints, costumes, [4] and Sévres porcelain.

Fragonard became a pupil of J.-L. David at the Academy’s école des Eléves Protégés when he was only twelve and living with his parents and his aunt, the painter Marguerite Gérard, in the Louvre. He was first listed in the livret of the Paris Salon as an exhibitor in 1793, at the age of thirteen. Fragonard’s works of the 1790s were mainly drawings of revolutionary republican subjects in a neoclassical style, many of which were engraved. [5] These show a clear renunciation of his father’s rococo style, then considered frivolous and a symbol of the ancien régime, in favor of the pared-down neoclassicism of his master. Later in his career, however, Fragonard assimilated many of the painterly techniques exemplified in his father’s work. By the first decade of the nineteenth century Fragonard was receiving important Napoleonic commissions such as designs for the Colonne de la campagne de Pologne. Although Fragonard did not send works to the Salon between 1812 and 1819 he was well recognized at the time and in 1815 received the decoration of chevalier of the Legion of Honor.

The rapidly changing political regimes of the early nineteenth century caused Fragonard’s work on several occasions to be destroyed or left incomplete. Under Napoleon he designed a sculptured frontal for the Chamber of Deputies (Palais Bourbon) which was replaced during the July Monarchy. Designs for the same building commissioned under the Restoration were aborted after the July Revolution of 1830. During the restoration, when he really came of age, Fragonard saw continued success as he changed his subject matter to suit current tastes. In 1819, already an accomplished artist, he ventured into the newly popular territory of historical genre painting. This change was well noted in contemporary criticism. [6] Themes from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, recently reintroduced into fashion by the troubadour painters dominated Fragonard’s painting for the rest of his life. His style, however, with its rich palette, painterly flourish, dramatic gesture and light effects, was very different from that of the troubadour painters, and closer to the next generation of Romantic artists associated with Delacroix — Colin and Bonington.

During the Restoration and July Monarchy Fragonard received important commissions for painted decorations for the Louvre (François I armé chevalier par Bayard, François I reçoit les tableaux rapportés d’Italie par le Primatice; Les Sciences et les Beaux-Arts rendent hommage à leurs dieux protecteurs), Versailles (Bataille de Marignan), and numerous churches including Strasbourg Cathedral, the Church of Ste. Geneviéve, and Saint-Etienne-du-Mont. He continued to exhibit easel paintings through the 1842 Salon. During this period Fragonard also did much work for the Sévres Manufactory, including both the design of porcelain forms and the decoration.

NOTES
[1]Recent writings on Alexandre Fragonard include publication of 2 albums of drawings at Grasse – G. Vindry, Revue du Louvre, 1974; entries in the Age of Revolution catalogue; Marie-Claude Chaudonneret, “Le Concours de 1830 pour la Chambre des Deputés,” `Revue du Louvre, v. 37, no. 2, 1987, pp. 128-35; Alexandre Ananoff, L’Oeil, v. 344, March 1984, pp. 70-5; Paul Jeromack, “Fragonard: the son also rises,” Connoisseur, v. 221, Fall 1992, p. 110.

[2]He designed a fountain in the Carmelite Market (destroyed) and an obelisk on the Pont-Neuf,a Napoleonic project which was not completed.

[3]Fragonard did a great many illustrations for the 19 volume Voyages pittoresques et romantiques dans l’a cienne France, par Nodier, J. Taylore et Alph. de Cailleux, Paris 1820-78.

[4]He designed costumes for the Quadrille de Marie Stuart given by the Duchess de Berry in 1819 (Wright, The Influence of the Historical Novels of Sir Walter Scott on the Changing Nature of French History Painting, p. 21). He also designed costumes for the opera.

[5]For example Le Triomphe de la liberté engraved by Copia, La Vérité (Musee Fragonard, Grasse), and L’Egalité, allégorie (Musee Fragonard, Grasse).

[6] His Salon entries for 1819 included a picture of François I and Henri IV & Gabrielle. These were discussed in Anthony Béraud, Lettres à David, sur le Salon de 1819, par quelques éléves des son ecole, Paris, 1819 (FARL 020.p21 sa 36): “Les deux tableaux que Fragonard vient de mettre à l’exposition sont, pour ainsi dire, son début dans le genre historique, … connus par des dessins pleins de goût et de fermeté, il travaillait à étudier la couleur et ses effets.” 21st letter, p. 150; M. Kératry in his Annuaire de l’Ecole Francaise de Peinture, ou Lettres sur le Salon de 1819 (FARL 020.p21 Sa36 1819), p. 217 wrote: “M. Fragonard n’était, jusqu’à présent, connu que par des sujets agréablement dessinés, et dans lesquels is semblait marcher plutôt sur les traces de son pére, que prétendre s’élever aux sévéres beautés du style historique. Dans cette route péileuse, ses premiers pas méritent d’être encouragés.”

Available Art Works

D. Juan and the Statute of the Commander

Work Available
Historical Period: 1810-1870 Romanticism
D. Juan and the Statute of the Commander
Faustian Fantasy: The Fatal Hour (II)

Work Available
Historical Period: 1780-1820 Neoclassicism and 1810-1870 Romanticism
Faustian Fantasy: The Fatal Hour (II)
Queen Elizabeth Bidding Farewell To Her Sons

Work Available
Historical Period: 1780-1820 Neoclassicism and 1810-1870 Romanticism
Queen Elizabeth Bidding Farewell To Her Sons
Rodrigo de Bivar

Work Available
Historical Period: 1810-1870 Romanticism
Rodrigo de Bivar "El Cid" and his father, Don Diego

Art Works Sold

Mary Queen of Scots with Rizzio

Sold or not Available
Historical Period: 1810-1870 Romanticism
Mary Queen of Scots with Rizzio