A Gathering at Wood's Edge, Jean Honoré Fragonard (French, Grasse 1732–1806 Paris), Red chalk

A Gathering at Wood's Edge

Jean Honoré Fragonard (French, Grasse 1732–1806 Paris)
ca. 1770–73
Red chalk
14 3/4 x 19 3/8 in. (37.5 x 49.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 1995
Accession Number:
Not on view
Unlike the majority of Fragonard's red chalk landscapes, made during a summer at Tivoli in 1760, this drawing is a work of the artist's maturity, probably dating to just before his second trip to Italy in 1773–74. Dense deciduous trees recall the forests around Paris rather than the Roman countryside. The unhesitating, even virtuoso, handling suggests that this is an independent work, probably created in the studio from a related plein-air study now in a private collection. A stand of mature trees, bursting with profuse sunlit foliage, guards the shady entrance to the woods. In a characteristic manipulation of scale, Fragonard presents small groupings of elegant figures, half lost in shadow, as restrained echoes of the vigor and fecundity of the overgrown landscape. The dramatic naturalism associated with the Dutch landscapists, especially Jacob van Ruisdael, is here merged with a vision of nature as a welcoming milieu for aristocratic dalliance, a legacy of Watteau's fêtes galantes.
Signature: Lower center, in red chalk: frago . . .
Jacques Doucet (French), his collection sale, Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, June 5, 1912 (lot 14, repr.); Marius Paulme (per Ananoff); Maurice Fenaille; Mr. and Mrs. François Panafieu (daugher of M. Fenaille and her husband); M. Panafieu's anonymous sale, Paris, Hôtel Drouot, June 23, 1959 (lot 6); Vendor: Wildenstein & Co., Inc.
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Ananoff 1961.336
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Jean Cailleux, Marianne Roland Michel Sanguines, dessins français du dix-huitième siècle. Ex. cat. Galerie Cailleux, Paris, Paris, 1978, cat. no. 12, p. 37.

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Perrin Stein, Marie-Anne Dupuy-Vachey, Eunice Williams, Kelsey Brosnan Fragonard--Drawing Triumphant. New York, 2016, cat. no. 49, 164-67, ill.