The Love Letter

Jean Honoré Fragonard French

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 631

Eighteenth-century artists and collectors valued oil sketches, believing that they attested to painters’ first ideas and their physical presence in each work of art. This finished painting engages with that new aesthetic. Fragonard’s sketch has energetic brushstrokes of varying thickness that capture sunlight as it lands at the center of the canvas along the woman’s cap, powdered face, flowers, dress, and bedraggled dog. This is not a portrait, but a genre scene that implies a narrative that continues outside the frame through a letter accompanied by a bouquet. The simple conceit of love letters had been popular in the previous century with Johannes Vermeer and his contemporaries.

#2215. The Love Letter

The Love Letter, Jean Honoré Fragonard (French, Grasse 1732–1806 Paris), Oil on canvas

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