Fragonard's Fantastic Figures | Marie Antoinette's Gossip Guide to the 18th Century: Fragonard's Fantastic Figures

November 06, 2009

Fragonard's Fantastic Figures

Fragonard, The Goddess Minerva. c. 1772. The Detroit Institute of Arts.

Here I shall supply the art, and YOU supply the stories!

Today I wanted to share the mythological and fictional figures that Fragonard painted. I am not going to give the background story to the figures here, but you can leave the story in the comment section.  Let me know what you think of his treatment of the figures!

Fragonard, Procris and Cephalos.  Musée des beaux-arts.

The 17th and 18th century saw a rise in the popularity of painting mythological and popular figures. They could be read into and represent the fate of man or even man himself. Louis XIV was known to liken himself with Apollo, hence the sun king was as grand as the sun god.

Fragonard, Psyche Showing her Sisters her Gifts from Cupid. 1753. National Gallery, London.

Artists also had no problem depicting these figures in a most sensual and idyllic way. The result is a pleasing combination of fantastic story and soft alluring imagery.

Fragonard, Grand Priest Coresus Sacrifices Himself to save Callirhoe. c. 1765. Louvre.


  1. Is it bad that I try to get my blusher to look like that of Minerva's in the first painting?

    The others are lovely paintings in terms of composition and colour, but definitely naughty.

  2. I have to comment again to say the colours are absolutely divine! Lauren, thank you for introducing me to Fragonard. :)

  3. i don't have a story but I really like the Minerva. I feel like She is usually represented as being very strong almost militant, a juggernaut. Here there are glimpses of those things but she is softer, more approachable and beautiful. It is a nice juxtaposition.

  4. Fragonard was always one of my favorites, if not the best for me.

  5. I think Fragonard's use of light in the Minerva painting is amazing! I've always admired his work, particularly his more pastoral scenes.

  6. I adore Fragonard. One of the joys of seeing the Frick Gallery in NYC is the Fragonard Room.

  7. I think I weird-out the employees of the Frick because I always spend so much time in the Fragonard room just taking in everything. I love the vibrant colors in the Minerva painting.