These versions of Love as Folly and
“[D]es plus agréables,” Leroy de Senneville sale, Desmarest, Paris, April 5, 1780, no. 56; quoted in Pierre Rosenberg, Tout l’oeuvre peint de Fragonard (Paris, 1989), 127 (Georges Wildenstein, The Paintings of Fragonard: Complete Edition [New York, 1960], 271).
The fact that the pictures, or works like them, belonged to such an important collector as Leroy de Senneville — who also owned Fragonard’s
See Pierre Rosenberg, Tout l’oeuvre peint de Fragonard (Paris, 1989), 103.
Minor or not, these compositions and their variants typify the kind of quickly painted, small-scale decorative pictures that Fragonard frequently produced during his career. Small oval canvases depicting Cupids or amorini are abundant throughout his catalogued oeuvre, but most often in the late 1760s and early 1770s, when the painter was enjoying one of his most lucrative periods.
Georges Wildenstein, The Paintings of Fragonard: Complete Edition (New York, 1960), 19.
See Jean-Pierre Cuzin, Fragonard, Life and Work (New York, 1988; French ed. Paris, 1987), nos. 249 – 251; Pierre Rosenberg, Tout l’oeuvre peint de Fragonard (Paris, 1989), nos. 157 – 160.
Georges Wildenstein, The Paintings of Fragonard: Complete Edition (New York, 1960), 271. For the gouaches (Alexandre Ananoff, L’oeuvre dessiné de Jean-Honoré Fragonard, 4 vols. [Paris, 1961 – 1970], 2: nos. 1000, 1001), which belonged to the important collector marchal de Saincy (his sale, Paris, April 29, 1789, and days following, lot 79), see Fragonard, le peintre de la ville des parfums (Grasse, 1995), 32 – 33. Of the extant paintings, Janinet’s prints are closest to the Simpson versions, although they do not reproduce them exactly. A print after Love the Sentinel was also made by Simon Charles Miger in 1779; all three prints are reproduced in Pierre Rosenberg, Tout l’oeuvre peint de Fragonard (Paris, 1989), 102, nos. 284a, 284b, 285a.
“Sur buisson / Le papillon / Voit-il la rose, / Il s’y repose. / Est-il heureux / Amant frivole / Soudain il vole / A d’autres jeux” (Roger Portalis, Honoré Fragonard: sa vie et son oeuvre, 2 vols. [Paris, 1889], 102, 197 – 198). The lines are from “Eclogue,” in Oeuvres choisies de Parny (Paris, 1826), 306 – 310. These works also reminded the Goncourts of the poetry of Parny (Edmond de Goncourt and Jules de Goncourt, L’art du dix-huitième siècle, 2 vols. [Paris, 1880 – 1884], 2:326).
This text was previously published in Philip Conisbee et al., French Paintings of the Fifteenth through the Eighteenth Century, The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue (Washington, DC, 2009), 172–176.
Collection data may have been updated since the publication of the print volume. Additional light adaptations have been made for the presentation of this text online.
January 1, 2009
Possibly Jean François Leroy de Sennéville [1715-1784], Paris; possibly (his sale, Chariot and Paillet at Hôtel de Bulion, Paris, 5-11 April 1780, no. 56); possibly purchased by Verrier. possibly Marquis de Véri; possibly (his sale, Paillet, Paris, 12 December 1785, no. 39); possibly purchased by Millin. possibly Folliot; possibly (Folliot sale, Regnault, Paris, 15 April 1793, no. 50). Marquis des Isnards; (Wildenstein, London, New York, and Paris); probably held jointly with (Ernest Gimpel, New York); sold 1905/1906 to John Woodruff Simpson [1850-1920], New York; by inheritance to his widow, Katherine Seney Simpson [d. 1943], New York; by inheritance to her daughter, Jean W. Simpson [1897-1980]; gift 1947 to NGA.
- Exhibition of Paintings and Drawings by Fragonard. Gimpel & Wildenstein Galleries, New York, 1914, no. 3
- Goncourt, Edmond de, and Jules de Goncourt. L'art du dix-huitième siècle. 2 vols. Paris, 1880: 2:326.
- Portalis, Roger. Honoré Fragonard, sa vie et son oeuvre. 2 vols. Paris, 1889: 62, 102, 270.
- Nolhac, Pierre de. J.-H. Fragonard. Paris, 1906: 156.
- Dayot, Armand and Leandre Vaillat. L'Oeuvre de J.-B.-S. Chardin et de J.-H. Fragonard. Paris, 1907: 14, no. 108, repro.
- Wildenstein and Company. French XVIII Century Paintings. New York, 1948: 4
- Einstein, Lewis. "Looking at French Eighteenth Century Pictures in Washington." Gazette des Beaux-Arts. 6th ser., vol. 67, no. 1048-1049 (May-June 1956): 244, repro. 245.
- Réau, Louis. Fragonard: sa vie et son oeuvre. Brussels, 1956: 146.
- Wildenstein, Georges. The Paintings of Fragonard. New York, 1960: no. 319, repro.
- Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 51.
- European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1968: 44, repro.
- Mandel, Gabriele. L'Opera completa di Fragonard. Milan, 1972: no. 344, repro.
- European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 132, repro.
- European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 158, repro.
- Cuzin, Jean-Pierre. "Jean-Honoré Fragonard: Vie et oeuvre." Fribourg, 1987. English edition New York, 1988: 308, nos. 354-355.
- Rosenberg, Pierre. Tout l'oeuvre peint de Fragonard. Paris, 1989: 102, no. 286-287.
- Conisbee, Philip, et al. French Paintings of the Fifteenth through the Eighteenth Century. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 2009: no. 34, 172-176, color repro.
Love as Folly and
The structural condition of the paintings is good, but the visual condition is rather poor. The impastoed brushstrokes have been slightly flattened, and the tops of them are dark with surface grime. There are sigmoid cracks in the sky of Love as Folly, and there is a significant amount of inpainting in this area. Both paintings have inpainting along the perimeters; it has discolored significantly, but it is hidden by the frames. The varnish has yellowed significantly, and although it appears to have been thinned, it remains disfiguring, with numerous areas of discolored residues.