April 5, 2017
James Taylor Harwood (1860-1940), Landscape in France, 1907, oil on canvas, 14 5/16 x 16 11/16 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of A. Merlin Steed and Alice W. Steed Collection, 1955.
French Rococo painter Jean-Honore Fragonard was born on this day in 1732. Fragonard was one of the most prolific painters of the period, producing nearly 500 works. His style is typified by the loose brushstrokes—something that he picked up from studying the Dutch masters—and the frivolous subject matter favored by his wealthy patrons. Originally painting landscapes, portraits, and religious subjects, Fragonard’s success among the royals and the higher social classes lead him to paint lighter subject matter, even subjects slightly sensual in nature. His most popular works were these genre scenes, painted for his wealthy patrons in the typical Rococo manner—emulating extravagance, wealth, and decoration. Eventually, many of his patrons fled France or were even executed during the French Revolution and Fragonard himself fled, only returning to France in the early 1800s.