In 18th century France, many aspiring young artists were given the opportunity to study in Italy, but Fragonard had the rare privilege of returning at the height of his powers as part of a year-long voyage underwritten by collector and financier Pierre-Jacques Onésyme Bergeret de Grancourt. In the Spring of 1774, at the southernmost point of their tour, the traveling party spent two months installed at lodgings at the edge of the bay of Naples. In between their sightseeing jaunts and social engagements, Fragonard clearly relished making drawings of local types, including fishermen and their wives.
Drawn on an unusually large scale, this pair of studies (see also 2006.353.2) embodies the accomplishment and confidence of Fragonard’s mature manner. Red chalk is used not only to delineate form, but to lay in areas of light and shadow through broad hatching and modulation of pressure. Despite their bare feet and somewhat ragged attire, the fishermen cut dashing figures with their broad-brimmed hats, billowy jackets, and looped-over sashes. The low angle of the sunlight and the slight weariness of their poses are both suggestive of end of the day labor.
Perrin Stein, May 2014
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Credit Line:Purchase, Walter and Leonore Annenberg and The Annenberg Foundation Gift, 2006
Inscription: in pen and brown ink at lower left: “fragonard pere fecit”; in black chalk at lower right: “fragonard”; in pen and black ink on the mount at the center of the lower margin: “piscator”
Marking: Watermark: a twice encircled fleur-de-lys.
Probably owned by Pierre Jacques Onésyme Bergeret de Grancourt (French); possibly his estate sale (Lugt 4027), Baradelle, Paris, April 24-29, 1786 (part of lot 210); or to his son; Pierre Jacques Bergeret (French); Xavier Atger (French), possibly his estate sale (Lugt 13614), Derbanne and Defer, Paris, April 7 -12, 1834 (part of lot 3, "Bouchardon (Edme)/ soixante-neuf dessins au crayon rouge et à la sanguine, études de têtes et figures académiques; de ce nombre plusieurs par Fragonard père."); Hippolyte Walferdin (French), his estate sale (Lugt 40074), Hôtel Drouot, Paris, April 12-16, 1880 (lot 232), purchased for 140 francs by Baron Hottinger; Hottinguer Family (Swiss), Zurich, by descent; Vendor: Salamander Fine Arts
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," January 8–March 25, 2007.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Paper Chase: Two Decades of Collecting Drawings and Prints," December 9, 2014–March 16, 2015.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Fragonard: Drawing Triumphant," October 6, 2016–January 8, 2017.
Baron Roger Portalis Honoré Fragonard, sa vie et son oeuvre. vol. 2, Paris, 1889, p. 310.
Alexandre Ananoff L'oeuvre dessiné de Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732-1806): Catalogue raisonné. vol. 2, Paris, 1963, cat. no. 766, p. 81.
Stijn Alsteens, Carmen C. Bambach, Constance C. McPhee, Nadine Orenstein, Perrin Stein "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 2006-2007." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, vol. 65, no. 2, New York, Fall 2007, p. 32, ill.
Perrin Stein "Fragonard in Naples: two rediscovered drawings." The Burlington magazine. vol. 149, May 2007, fig. no. 12, pp. 305-08, ill.
Perrin Stein, Marie-Anne Dupuy-Vachey, Eunice Williams, Kelsey Brosnan Fragonard--Drawing Triumphant. New York, 2016, cat. no. 61, 190-93, ill.
Louis-Antoine Prat Le Dessin Français au XVIIIe siècle. Paris, 2017, fig. no. 1470, 685, ill.
Publishing and Marketing Assistant Rachel High speaks with Fragonard: Drawing Triumphant author Perrin Stein to discuss the "Fragonard myth," the changing role of drawing in the 18th century, and the reasons why Stein loves studying this artist.
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