JEAN HONORE FRAGONARD,Vintage Art Masterpieces,Vintage Prints for Sale Storming the Citadel by JEAN HONORE FRAGONARD {French School}

Storming the Citadel by JEAN HONORE FRAGONARD {French School}

Storming the CitadelStorming the Citadel

by JEAN HONORE FRAGONARD {French School}

 

THE pomaded elegance of eighteenth-century France found its exemplar in
Fragonard, an artist who sold his decorative birthright to the enthronement
of sensuality. Of precocious dexterity, he was a pupil of Chard in at the age of
fifteen, but the muted kitchenware of the still-life master exasperated him, and
he became an assistant to Boucher.

He won the Prix de Rome, and with it the
King’s patronage, and some years after his return from Italy in 1761, was
elected to the Academy and given a studio in the Louvre, which he maintained
until thrown out by Napoleon in 1806, the year of his death.

 

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Fragonard was
painter in ordinary to the fashionable women of Paris, decorating their luxu­
rious apartments and contributing his inventive genius to the celebration of
frivolity.

To protect himself from intrigue, he married and had a family, but
his respectability was all on the surface, and he could not resist the allure­
ments of his wife’s younger sister.

During the Revolution he kept his head,
thanks to David whom he had once befriended with a commission. But his
occupation was gone: he was incapable of adapting his hedonistic skill to the
Age of Reason; and though the young lovers in his pictures, after dallymg
in barns, now settled down to domestic fertility, with swarms of children, no
one cared, and he died in poverty.

It was an amorous world that Fragonard painted, a world in which the
blandishments of sex were cultivated into an etiquette of glamour which was
the whole o£ life.

The only serious business was the observance of the rules
governing the mock-heroic conquest. Storming the Citadel, the second of six
panels depicting the course of true love in the hearts of yonng girls, “is a per­
fect illustration of the affected innocence of the game. Fragonard’s women
were never taken by storm: the surrender was a foregone conclusion, and the
excitement lay in the studied elegance with which the gallants removed the
artificial barriers.

The panels were ordered by Mme du Barry but were re­
jected because the faces of the actors in Storming the Cuade] resembled the
Madame and King Louis XV.

Fragonard painted the series WIth incomparable
virtuosity, and with never a hint of the incautious pornography of Boucher.

The innocence is unreal; the ideas are pure make-believe; the scene is a stage
setting-it is all playacting in the grand manner, an art in itself, hut as such
a brilliant and truthful interpretation of the age of frivolity which precipitated
the Revolution.

 

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