Fragonard Friday: Rejection | Marie Antoinette's Gossip Guide to the 18th Century: Fragonard Friday: Rejection

September 18, 2009

Fragonard Friday: Rejection

As a boy, Fragonard took a keen intersest in art above all things.  The love he expressed toward drawing and painting did not go unoticed and his parents brought him to a fellow by the name of Boucher, who took on apprentices. 

He was probably around 14-15 at the time.  Boucher noted right away he really had no formal training, and decided he would let his friend Chardin deal with the kid, if he wanted to.  Chardin took young Fragonard and gave him an apprenticeship doing really fun tasks! Coffee, bagels, and making copies! He copied the works of masters, a tedious, time consuming task (also quite effective) but nonetheless all too boring for Fragonard. 

Chardin eventually gave up on him and let him go! He was clearly bored and Chardin did not see him going far. But after being associated with the two top talents one could ever wish to be, at least in 1748, Fragonard knew he could not just walk away from a possible art career.  It really stung, but what else was he to do? Haberdasher? No way!

This was a tough time for him, and he had to act fast.  Rejection never looks good on the CV and to fix it drastic measures had to be taken. Besides, he really slacked when it came to school, so he needed to find a niche in the art world. 

He put together a portfolio of drawings he had done from great works in Parisian churches, and headed over to see Boucher.  In a tense 'interview' moment he presented his portfolio to the master painter hoping to recieve an apprenticeship from him. To his great relief the artist took him on! (It's like designing for Dior then jumping to Chanel!) The two became friends after working together for a bit, job security....

Jeroboam Sacrificing to the Idol, Fragonard age 20


  1. Who is this Boucher fellow you speak of? Sounds interesting ;)

  2. I've always loved Fragonard's work but I had no idea that he had such a difficult beginning to his career.

  3. @Heather - oh you know...just some guy who was in to the art scene. I am sure you will hear more about him :)

    @Ingrid Mida - It wasn't too smooth at first! But I imagine most new students at that age can become easily bored and seem disinterested. However, how lucky was that boy! To be involved so early on with such great minds!

    If ever a way to begin a career lol

  4. Thanks Lauren. I never knew that about Fragonard. I'm impressed bu the painting at age 20. I'm still drawing stick figures. It's hard to tell online, but the style looks very confident and rather Baroque. Is it a copy of an earlier Master, like Rubens?

    Just lovin' Fragonard Fridays!

  5. This one was not a copy, in fact, he painted it after some time with Boucher and entered it for the Prix de Rome, and it won!

  6. I'm not surprised it won. The figures seem a bit more articulated than in other works by him and the postures really feel honest and passionate. In some works of this kind of story subject matter, one feels something 'actory' in the body language - here it seems instantaneous and true.

  7. Wow! Now I'm even more impressed! Thanks for the extra info.

  8. Wow, he was really lucky. I wonder how many talents we probably lost in history, due to the lack of support or fortune.