Jean-Honore Fragonard paints with pastel!

Jean-Honore Fragonard (1732-1806) was an outstanding representative of the Rococco style in France. He is well-known for paintings such as The Swing, Blind Man’s Bluff , and A Young Girl Reading.

The Swing

The Swing

Blindman's Buff

Blindman’s Bluff

A Young Girl Reading

A Young Girl Reading

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But he also did beautiful drawings and even a few pastels. Check out this sensitive portrayal of a family retainer.

Jean-Honore Fragonard, "Portrait of Sophie," c.1780, pastel, 23.62 x 15.94 in (60 x 40 cm), Besancon, Musee des Beaux-Arts

Jean-Honore Fragonard, “Portrait of Sophie,” c.1780, pastel, 23.22 x 119.68 in (59 x 50 cm), Besancon, Musee des Beaux-Arts

Look at the softness of the white cloth with its many folds. Can’t you just feel it? And look at the way the hair is so simply yet fully described. I love the way the neck and the jawline reveal the aging face in a gentle and compassionate way.

 

And look at this detail:

 

Jean-Honore Fragonard, "Portrait of Sophie," c.1780, pastel, 23.62 x 15.94 in (60 x 40 cm), Besancon, Musee des Beaux-Arts - detail

Jean-Honore Fragonard, “Portrait of Sophie,” c.1780, pastel, 23.62 x 15.94 in (60 x 40 cm), Besancon, Musee des Beaux-Arts – detail

Fragonard made it all look so easy, a line here, a smudge of pastel there. This woman, whose dark eyes reveal nothing, looks as if she is about to speak. And those eyes, just look at them. No hard lines, a delicacy of handling with neither eye a copy of the other. Such subtle nuances of values to reveal the skin. Fragonard sometimes uses the paper as part of the colouring of the piece as seen on the right side of the chin –  you can see the paper coming through.

There’s no doubt that Fragonard was a master; all you have to do is study this pastel to know it!

Here’s a neat wee book on Fragonard:

 

Thanks for reading,

~ Gail

 

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