Feel Art Again: Jean-Honoré Fragonard

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Since today just happens to be Love Note Day, let's celebrate by talking about Jean-Honoré Fragonard's "The Love Letter" and "Love Letters." Some interesting tidbits:

1. The inscription on the title letter in "The Love Letter" (left) has two interpretations among scholars. It could be "cavalier," as in a gentleman or knight, or it could be the name "Cuvillere." If the latter is the intended interpretation, then the girl in the painting is Marie Émilie Boucher, the daughter of Fragonard's teacher (François Boucher) and the wife of Charles Étienne Gabriel Cuvillier, an architect and friend of her father.

2. Some believe "The Love Letter" was part of Fragonard's "pitch" for a commission from Madame du Barry, mistress to Louis XV.

3. Fragonard received the commission and created a series of panels, Les Progrès de l'Amour dans le coeur d'une jeune fille (Love's progress in a girl's heart), to be installed in Pavillon de Louveciennes. Within two years, though, Madame du Barry returned the panels to Fragonard, who then installed them in his cousin's home. Today, copies of the panels are on display in the home in Grasse, while the originals reside in the Frick Collection in NY.

'Feel Art Again' is a regular feature in the capable hands of InternAndréa Fernandes, a junior at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia. If you missed the first installment, catch up here.