Jean-Honoré Nicolas Fragonard
05 April 1732
; Grasse, France *
22 August 1806
; Paris, France *
1750 - 1799
Best known for his flourishly hedonistic scenes, Jean Honoré Fragonard was a French Rococo painter and print maker, who was one of the most prolific painters of the Ancién Regime. He showed a great talent for art at an early age, and was sent to study with the Rococo painter Francois Boucher, who soon trusted him enough to paint replicas of his works. By the time was 20 years old, he won the Prix de Rome, a scholarship to the French Academy, with his painting Jeroboan Sacrificing to the Golden Calf. Three years later, he moved to study at the French Academy of Art in Rome, where he was influenced by the romantic gardens, temples, grottos, terraces, and fountains.
In 1765, he painted Coresus et Callirhoe, which not only secured his position at the Academy, but showed his talent for intimate, mildly erotic scenes, which were favored by wealthy patrons and members of Louis XV’s lascivious court. He was wildly popular until the French Revolution deprived Fragonard of his patrons, many of whom were guillotined or exiled. Without patronage, he left Paris in 1793, living with his friend Maubert, whose house he decorated with a series of lavishly decorated panels.
Upon returning to Paris, he found that he was almost completely forgotten, his erotic scenes seemingly irrelevant after the upheaval of the French Revolution. He died in 1806, and little was written of him or his work until almost half a century later. He is now considered one of the masters of French painting.