National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of The Visit to the Nursery Jean-Honoré Fragonard (artist)
French, 1732 - 1806
The Visit to the Nursery, c. 1775
oil on canvas
overall: 73 x 92.1 cm (28 3/4 x 36 1/4 in.) framed: 97.8 x 116.8 cm (38 1/2 x 46 in.)
Samuel H. Kress Collection
On View
From the Tour: 18th-Century France — Boucher and Fragonard
Object 7 of 8

This tender scene may illustrate an episode from a sentimental novel, Le Roman de Miss Sarah Th..., in which a young English girl put aside wealth and position for life in the countryside with a poor but virtuous man. The narrator relates, "together they bent over the cradle and looked, first at the child and then at each other, holding hands and smiling." The theme's popularity reflects Rousseau's emphasis on natural human emotions and family life as well as a general longing to escape the artificiality of society. Fragonard is also responding to critics and middle-class audiences who called for art to contribute to domestic virtue. Not only is this nursery far from the lighthearted games in the artist's other works, but also the more subdued style emphasizes the story rather than his painting technique. The rigidly formal composition, restrained color scheme, and more controlled brushwork all point to the increasingly sober character of painting in France during the years before the revolution.

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