Happy Lovers

Jean-Honoré Fragonard (French, 1732-1806)
c. 1751–1755
Oil on canvas 
35-1/2 x 47-3/4 in. (90.2 x 121.3 cm) 
Credit Line:
The Norton Simon Foundation 
Accession Number:
© The Norton Simon Foundation 
Not on View

The pleasure-loving character of the Rococo is joyously expressed in this delightful painting by Fragonard. A young couple enjoys the seclusion of a rustic retreat. Branches, leaves, and flowers form an embroidered arbor around the pair that contributes to the frivolity of the scene. Fragonard’s tactile brushwork creates a voluptuous surface that complements the subject. The pretty young girl plays the temptress to the boy who is the willing object of her affection. Above his head, she dangles a birdcage, its door already ajar. As a symbol both moralizing and erotic, the birdcage carried implications for the dalliance between the young couple that would have been easily recognizable to its eighteenth-century audience.


Hippolyte-Pol Poitevin, Officer of the Legion of Honor, Paris.
[E. Gimpel & Wildenstein, Paris and New York in April, 1917, sold same year to];
Judge Elbert H. Gary (c. 1889–1927), New York, still in 15 June 1918.
Mrs. Lewis Nixon (née Sally Lewis Wood, 1891–1937), New York, sold 1935 to;
[Duveen Bros., New York, stock no. 29712, as The Happy Lovers/The Bird Cage/Les amants heureux, sold 1965 to];
The Norton Simon Foundation.

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