Marie Antoinette and her Two Children by Pierre Alexandre Wille
September 25, 2009
To Each, Their Own
Court commissions were the best way to stay afloat as a working artist in the 18th century. Next to that any commission from someone of rank would do. Fragonard found himself working amongst the court and had years that pulled in 40,000 livres. For such sums he would work every day, aside from Sundays.
Even though some years paid off, there were other years that did not go quite as successful - and that is just a truth about arts. If the commissions were not there, finances would plummet. Fragonard had his fair share of slow times. For example if there were a lack of history painting commissions he would not sit idle but paint to a different taste - whichever taste was in the market.
Opinions on his painting varied. There was the thought that he was just poorly trained. Well trained artists would stick to classic work, fantastic history paintings with moral undertones. Paintings that educated. Fragonard however, did not receive this "proper training" and as a result he no longer produced "serious work." He was too easily influenced by fashion and bad taste."
Others found that by allowing the fashion of the times influence him and even guide him; he created works that appealed to a large population. Thus he created commissions for himself, and a demand for the work. Mastering a style that was current, with an emphasis on playfulness and frivolity, he was able to adapt and survive. Reinventing his style - like Madonna!