Happy Lovers
c. 1751–1755
Jean-Honoré Fragonard (French, 1732-1806)
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.

Details

  • Artist Name: Jean-Honoré Fragonard (French, 1732-1806)
  • Title: Happy Lovers
  • Date: c. 1751–1755
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 35-1/2 x 47-3/4 in. (90.2 x 121.3 cm)
  • Credit Line: The Norton Simon Foundation
  • Accession Number: F.1965.1.021.P
  • Copyright: © The Norton Simon Foundation

Object Information

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.

A Loan Exhibition of French Paintings, XVII-XX Centuries

  • Detroit Institute of Arts, 1947-03-06 to 1947-03-30
Goodman, Elise, Simiolus, fig. 23 pp. 263 and 265
Molotiu, Andrei, Fragonard's Allegories of Love, p. 64
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Mandel, Gabriele, and Wildenstein, Daniel, L'opera complete di Fragonard, no. 40 p. 87
Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best, cat. D17 p. 442
Morse, John D., Old Master Paintings in North America, p.128
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Gimpel, René, Journal d'un collectionneur, marchand de tableaux, p. 59
Seldis, Henry J., Art in America, pp. 95, 101
Cuzin, Jean-Pierre, Jean-Honoré Fragonard: Vie et oeuvre, ill. no. 40 and under no. 42, ill. pp. 30, 31, 267
La Fontaine, Contes interdits de La Fontaine, Cover
Herrick, L., American Art News, p. 3
Bullard, E. John, Arts Quarterly, ill. pp. 14, 37
Mocquais, Pierre-Yves, Lectures de Jean-Jacques Rousseau: sélections, mimétismes et controversies, ill pp. 157, 158
Sutton, Denys, Apollo, no. 9, fig. 10 pp. 40-41
Sarphie, Suzanne, Scripps College Bulletin, ill. pp. 20-22
Cleef, A. van, American Art News, p. 6
Gimpel, René, Journal d'un collectionneur, marchand de tableaux, p. 48
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Anonymous, Springfield Museum of Fine Arts Bulletin, p. 3
Brommer, Gerald F., Discovering Art History, p. 319
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Murphy, Edward, The New York Times Magazine, ill.
Cuzin, Jean-Pierre, Jean-Honoré Fragonard: Life and Work. Complete Catalogue of the Oil Paintings, no. 40, fig. 31 pp. 31-32
Dupuy-Vachey, Marie-Anne, Fragonard, p. 91
La Farge, H., Art News, pp. 13-14
Charles Scribner's Sons, Europe 1450-1789: An Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World, p. 370
Dauterman, Carl Christian, The Burlington Magazine, p. 757
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Additional Artwork by Artist

Music Jean-Honoré Fragonard c. 1761–65
Study After Italian Artist: Allegory of Fortitude (from the Palazzo Capodimonte) Jean-Honoré Fragonard 1760-61
Study After Jusepe de Ribera: Pieta (from the Certosa di San Martino) Jean-Honoré Fragonard 1760-61

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