The 2012 discovery of a drawing by Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732–1806) depicting his so-called fantasy figures is the inspiration behind a revelatory exhibition of the corresponding paintings. Fragonard’s drawing presents thumbnail-sized sketches relating to 14 of his known paintings—rapidly executed, brightly colored portraits of lavishly costumed individuals, including the Gallery’s own Young Girl Reading (c. 1770). On loan from international public and private collections, Fragonard’s fantasy figures will be assembled alongside his original sketch for the first time. The exhibition [....] presents scientific research into the mysterious series and examines the 18th-century Parisian world of new money, unexpected social alliances, and extravagant fashions from which these unique paintings emerged.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.
Whether or not you go, Fragonard: Drawing Triumphant delves into the work of one of the most forward-looking artists in 18th-century France, Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732–1806), considered the preeminent draftsman of his time. This fresh assessment of the artist focuses on the role of drawing in his creative process and showcases Fragonard’s mastery and experimentation with drawing in a range of media, from vivid red chalk to luminous brown wash, as well as etching, watercolor, and gouache. Unlike many old master painters, Fragonard explored the potential of drawings as works of art in their own right, ones that permitted him to work with great freedom and allowed his genius to shine. The drawings featured here come from public and private collections in New York, balancing a mix of well-loved masterpieces, new discoveries, and works that have long been out of the public eye.