Fragonard's Merry Company

Jean Honoré Fragonard: Woman with a Dog, identified as Marie-Émilie Coignet de Courson (1727–1806), circa 1769 (Metropolitan Museum of Art/Art Resource, NY)
Jean Honoré Fragonard, Woman with a Dog, identified as Marie-Émilie Coignet de Courson (1727–1806), circa 1769 (Metropolitan Museum of Art/Art Resource, NY)

Colin B. Bailey writes about Fragonard: The Fantasy Figures recently on view at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Bailey writes that the show "[celebrates] the thirty-seven-year-old Fragonard as a practitioner of 'pure painting'—an action painter avant la lettre. His rainbow palette is 'parrot colored'—to use a term that was applied to Renoir in the heyday of Impressionism—and consists primarily of lemon yellows, creamy whites, scarlets, saffrons, and duck-egg blues... Painted as if au premier coup (in one go), Fragonard’s congenial sitters are caught mid-stream in a range of pleasurable, intimate activities. The spontaneity and speed of his performance are palpable: hues are blended wet on wet; brush strokes retain their traces; the tip of his brush inscribes zig-zag scribbles deep into the impasto of ruffs, collerettes, and sleeves."