Art/ Collection/ Art Object

A Shaded Avenue

Jean Honoré Fragonard (French, Grasse 1732–1806 Paris)
ca. 1775
Oil on wood
11 1/2 x 9 1/2 in. (29.2 x 24.1 cm)
Credit Line:
The Jules Bache Collection, 1949
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 616
While Fragonard was primarily a figure painter, he was also a gifted landscapist, influenced by Dutch views of the previous century, as well as by scenes in France and Italy. He made several drawings that are variations of this subject and larger that the present panel (one sheet is in the Petit Palais, Paris). He often showed light entering a relatively dark space through an arched opening.
While A Shaded Avenue may always have been with The Cascade (49.7.50), the two compositions are not complementary. The present picture is one third smaller than, and was probably preceded by, a splendid bister wash and chalk drawing of the same subject (Musée du Petit Palais, Paris). Another drawing (private collection), larger than the painting, shows essentially the same trees but different staffage, including two women, one with a child, seated on a bench in the foreground.

The allée of overarching trees which shades the small figures and leads to an aureole of light at the end of the tunnel (containing a statue on a pedestal?) is one of Fragonard’s most brilliant conceptions in landscape. It has not been possible to establish whether this is a particular view in Rome or France and perhaps it is simply imaginary. The sky plays a more important role in the painted landscape, picking out the delicate silhouettes of the leaves and branches of the trees, especially toward the top of the picture. Otherwise there is very little local color.

[Katharine Baetjer 2016]
Count Alexander Sergeyevich Stroganov, St. Petersburg and Maryno (by 1800–d. 1811; cat., 1800, nos. 115–16); his cousin, Count Grigory Alexandrovich Stroganov, St. Petersburg (1811–d. 1857); his grandson, Count Grigory Sergeyevich Stroganov, Palazzo Stroganov, Rome (1857–d. 1910; cat., 1912, vol. II, p. 99, pl. 78); his daughter, Princess Maria Grigorievna Scherbatova, and her children, Prince Vladimir Alekseyevich and Princess Alexandra Alexeyevna, Palazzo Stroganov (1910–d. 1920); Prince Vladimir's widow, Princess Elena Petrovna Scherbatova, later Wolkonsky, and her children, Princess Olga Vladimirovna and Princess Maria Vladimirovna, Palazzo Stroganov (1920–23; sold through Prince Alexandre Wolkonsky, Paris, to Wildenstein and Duveen); [Wildenstein and Duveen, Paris and New York, 1923–26; sold by Wildenstein for $12,500 to Bache]; Jules S. Bache, New York (1926–d. 1944; his estate, 1944–49; cats., 1929, unnumbered; 1937, no. 52; 1943, no. 51)
New York. Wildenstein. "Paintings and Drawings by Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732–1806)," 1926, no. 6 (as "L'Allée Ombreuse").

Hartford, Conn. Wadsworth Atheneum and Morgan Memorial. "Retrospective Exhibition of Landscape Painting," January 20–February 9, 1931, no. 58 (lent by Jules Bache, New York).

London. 25 Park Lane. "Three French Reigns," February 21–April 5, 1933, no. 123 (as "The Shady Grove," lent by Jules S. Bache).

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Bache Collection," June 16–September 30, 1943, no. 51.

Palm Beach. Society of the Four Arts. "XVIII Century Paintings," December 12, 1952–January 9, 1953, no catalogue?

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Fifty Centuries," November 15, 1970–February 15, 1971, no. 306.

New York. Colnaghi. "Claude to Corot: The Development of Landscape Painting in France," November 1–December 15, 1990, no. 38A.

comte A. de Stroganoff. Catalogue raisonné des tableaux qui composent la collection du Comte A. de Stroganoff. St. Petersburg, 1800, pp. 79–80, nos. 115–16 (this picture and 49.7.50), as "Vues de jardins d'Italie" by Fragonard.

Christian Brinton. Modern Artists. New York, 1908, p. 8.

N. Wrangel and A. Troubnikov. "Les tableaux de la collection du comte G. Stroganoff à Rome." Starye Gody (March 1909), pp. 135–37, ill., as "The Shady Avenue"; date the picture and its pendant during Fragonard's stay in Rome, 1756–60; identify the setting as Villa Barberini; note that this subject was "later drawn by Fragonard in sepia with slight changes" and engraved by Greux.

Antonio Muñoz. Pièces de choix de la collection du comte Grégoire Stroganoff. Vol. 2, Moyen-Âge—Renaissance—Époque Moderne. Rome, 1911, p. 99, pl. 78.

Édouard Brandus. "La collection des tableaux anciens de M. Jules S. Bache, à New-York." La Renaissance 11 (May 1928), p. 188.

A Catalogue of Paintings in the Collection of Jules S. Bache. New York, 1929, unpaginated, ill., as painted near Rome in 1760, probably the park surrounding the villa of Prince Mattei, near Tivoli; names Prince Galitzine as the first owner.

Alfred M. Frankfurter. "Masterpieces of Landscape Painting in American Collections." Fine Arts 18 (December 1931), pp. 22, 30, ill.

A Catalogue of Paintings in the Bache Collection. under revision. New York, 1937, unpaginated, no. 52, ill.

Harry B. Wehle. "The Bache Collection on Loan." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 1 (June 1943), p. 286.

A Catalogue of Paintings in the Bache Collection. rev. ed. New York, 1943, unpaginated, no. 51, ill.

Theodore Rousseau Jr. "A Guide to the Picture Galleries." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 12, part 2 (January 1954), ill. p. 38.

Charles Sterling. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of French Paintings. Vol. 1, XV–XVIII Centuries. Cambridge, Mass., 1955, pp. 155–57, ill., notes that the large sepia drawing in the Petit Palais, Paris, and a similar one in the Edward Esmond collection, make it clear that the avenue is plane trees and characteristic of southern France; concludes that the drawings were made during Fragonard's journey of October 1773, perhaps at Bergeret's château at Nègrepelisse near Montauban.

Louis Réau. Fragonard, sa vie et son oeuvre. Brussels, 1956, pp. 95, 113, 184, 270, dates it 1760, as a view of the park in the Villa Mattei, Rome; notes that the 1787 painting, "Allée couverte," by Pierre Delaunay de Bayeaux (1759–1789) was inspired by this composition.

Georges Wildenstein. The Paintings of Fragonard, Complete Edition. London, 1960, pp. 23, 276, no. 350, pl. 69, as painted between 1773 and 1776; notes that Portalis regarded the composition as from the artist's first Italian journey (1756–61), a theory now abandoned; believes the motif was taken either from Bergeret's château de Nointel, or from his château de Nègrepelisse.

Gabriele Mandel in L'opera completa di Fragonard. Milan, 1972, p. 102, no. 369, ill., dates it 1773 or shortly thereafter.

Alain Beausire in Pèlerinage à Watteau. Exh. cat., Hôtel de la Monnaie. Vol. 1, Paris, 1977, p. 214.

Roseline Bacou in French Landscape: Drawings and Sketches of the Eighteenth Century. Exh. cat., British Museum. London, 1977, p. 72, mentions it in connection with the Petit Palais drawing, observing that these views and the drawing formerly in the Esmond collection probably date from soon after Fragonard's return in 1774.

Per Bjurström. French Drawings: Eighteenth Century. Stockholm, 1982, unpaginated (under no. 954), ill., discusses this picture and its pendant in relation to Fragonard's drawing, "Italian Landscape", which he dates 1773–74; notes that the relative freedom with which the artist rearranges the various elements suggests that the paintings were compiled from Fragonard's repertoire of Italian motifs.

Jean-Pierre Cuzin. Jean-Honoré Fragonard: Vie et oeuvre, catalogue complet des peintures. Fribourg, Switzerland, 1987, p. 316, no. 295, ill., dates them about 1775–76.

Philippe Sollers. Les surprises de Fragonard. Paris, 1987, ill. p. 21 (color).

Pierre Rosenberg. Fragonard. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1988, pp. 389–90, 393, fig. 2, under no. 186 [French ed., 1987, as "L'allée ombreuse"], discusses it in relation to the drawings in the Musée du Petit Palais and formerly with Edward Esmond; believes the Petit Palais drawing, which he places in 1773–74, predates the picture, which, in turn, predates the second drawing.

Pierre Rosenberg. Tout l'oeuvre peint de Fragonard. Paris, 1989, p. 110, no. 344, ill., dates this painting and its pendant about 1780.

Jean-Pierre Cuzin and Pierre Rosenberg in J. H. Fragonard e H. Robert a Roma. Exh. cat., Villa Medici. Rome, 1990, pp. 227–28, ill., note that the Petit Palais drawing is characteristic of works Fragonard produced in Rome in 1773–74 and place the picture probably a bit later.

Alan Wintermute in Claude to Corot: The Development of Landscape Painting in France. Ed. Alan Wintermute. Exh. cat., Colnaghi. New York, 1990, pp. 86, 91, 116, 136, 195–96, 198–200, no. 38A, ill. (color), observes that Rosenberg "is probably correct . . . that the Petit Palais drawing precedes the Metropolitan painting, which in turn seems to have come before the drawing in a French private collection"; admits that no location in Italy or France can be identified and suggests that perhaps none was intended.

Alexis Gregory. "The French Landscape: Claude to Corot." Journal of Art 3 (December 1990), p. 17.

José-Luis de Los Llanos. Fragonard et le dessin français au XVIIIe siècle dans les collections du Petit Palais. Exh. cat., Petit Palais. Paris, 1992, pp. 81, 83, fig. 65, considers the drawing in the Petit Palais a calculated composition, not a study made "sur le motif".

Nicola Kalinsky. Gainsborough. London, 1995, p. 106, ill.

Jean-Pierre Cuzin. "Fragonard: Quelques nouveautés et quelques questions." Mélanges en hommage à Pierre Rosenberg: Peintures et dessins en France et en Italie, XVIIe–XVIIIe siècles. Paris, 2001, p. 173, mentions them in relation to "Vue d'un parc italien" (private collection, London).

Ewa Lajer-Burcharth. "Fragonard in Detail." Differences 14 (Fall 2003), pp. 38–39, ill.

Joseph Baillio et al. The Arts of France from François Ier to Napoléon Ier. Exh. cat., Wildenstein & Co., Inc. New York, [2005], p. 79, date them about 1780.

The frame is from France and dates to about 1752 (see Additional Images, figs. 1–3). This exquisite Louis XV frame is a pendant to the painting 49.7.50 and is the original frame on which the later copy was based. The back frame is made of oak and the front carved of limewood. The mitred corners are secured with tapered keys. A small cavetto lies within a volute, husk, and bean carved passage at the sight edge. The hollow with its rocaille carved ornament and floral sprays rises to a swept top edge which wraps acanthus leaves asymmetrically around pierced rocaille at the corners. Small animated rocaille perch on the swept sides at the centers. The outer hollow terminates with a chain of cabochon and rosette at the back edge. The matte and burnished water gilding is on an ochre and red bole on a skillfully recut gesso layer. This frame was reduced in size when it was copied in the nineteenth century for use on a different pair of paintings. The painted slip was added for this painting.

[Timothy Newbery with Cynthia Moyer 2017; further information on this frame can be found in the Department of European Paintings files]
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