Rinaldo in the Enchanted Forest

Jean Honoré Fragonard (French, Grasse 1732–1806 Paris)
ca. 1763
Brown wash over very light black chalk underdrawing
13 3/16 × 18 in. (33.5 × 45.7 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest; Guy Wildenstein Gift; The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund; Kristin Gary Fine Art Gift; and funds from various donors, 2009
Accession Number:
Not on view
This boldly handled and beautifully preserved drawing by Fragonard illustrates a scene from canto 18 of Torquato Tasso's epic poem Jerusalem Delivered, published in 1581. The poem was a highly fictionalized and fantastic account of the First Crusade in 1099. In this scene, Rinaldo, a Christian knight on his way to the Holy Land, is detained by the pagan enchantress Armida until two of his fellow knights break the spell. Fragonard's drawing imagines the decisive moment of Rinaldo's victory, as he brandishes his sword overhead in the act of chopping down Armida's massive myrtle tree, thereby dispelling its enchantments.
This sheet was made soon after Fragonard returned to Paris after having spent five years in Rome, from 1756 to 1761. Exposure to the masters of the Italian Baroque led him to move beyond his early style, which had been indebted to the sweet Rococo manner of his teacher François Boucher, and to endow his figures and compositions with a new energy and dynamism. Along with this stylistic shift emerged a marked predilection for sketchlike canvases and large, painterly drawings.
Hôtel Drouot , Paris, sale (Lugt 34819), April 27-28, 1874 (lot 75, “Guerrier ombattant des monstres. Très beau et vigoureux dessin au bistre”); Alfred Le Ghait ; his collection sale (Lugt 37158), Hôtel Drouot, Paris, February 28 - March 1, 1877 (lot 64, “Guerrier combattant des monstres. Scène tirée probablement de la Jérusalem délivrée. Vigoureux dessin à la sépia [33 × 46 cm]”), 230 francs; Guiraud , according to Ananoff; [Jacques Guerlain]; Vendor: Galerie de Bayser, Paris
Réunion des Musées Nationaux - Grand Palais. "Fragonard," September 24, 1987–January 4, 1988.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," October 5, 2009–January 10, 2010.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Fragonard: Drawing Triumphant," October 6, 2016–January 8, 2017.

Alexandre Ananoff L'oeuvre dessiné de Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732-1806). Catalogue raisonné. 3, Paris, 1968, cat. no. 1703.

Alexandre Ananoff L'oeuvre dessiné de Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732-1806): Catalogue raisonné. vol. 4, Paris, 1970, 432.

Denys Sutton Fragonard. Ex. cat. Tokyo, 1980, n.p.

Jean-Pierre Cuzin Jean-Honoré Fragonard: Vie et oeuvre, catalogue complet des peintures. Office du Livre, Fribourg, Switzerland, 1987, p. 252 n. 6.

Pierre Rosenberg, Katharine Baetjer Fragonard. Ex. cat.: Grand Palais, Paris, 24 Sept. 1987-4 Jan. 1988 and Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2 Feb.-8 May, 1988. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Paris and New York, 1987, cat. no. 71A, pp. 159-160, ill.

François Louis 'L’âme de l’homme de génie’, Fragonards Rinaldo-Pendants im literarischen Kontext Georges-Bloch-Jahrbuch des Kunstgeschichtlichen Seminars der Universität Zürich. I, 1994, p. 191 n. 3.

Richard Beresford, Peter Raissis, Art Gallery of New South Wales The James Fairfax Collection of Old Master Paintings, Drawings, and Prints. Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2003, cat. no. 22.3, pp. 84-87, ill.

Stijn Alsteens, Carmen C. Bambach, Perrin Stein "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 2008-2010." in The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, vol. 68, no. 2, Fall 2010, p. 40.

Fragonard: Poesie & Leidenschaft. Berlin and Munich: Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe and Deutscher Kunstverlag GmbH, 2013, 238, fig. no. 18, p. 240, ill.

Perrin Stein, Marie-Anne Dupuy-Vachey, Eunice Williams, Kelsey Brosnan Fragonard--Drawing Triumphant. New York, 2016, cat. no. 36, 140-41, ill.

Louis-Antoine Prat Le Dessin Français au XVIIIe siècle. Paris, 2017, fig. no. 1426, 671-72, ill.