Fragonard: The Fantasy Figures
Jean Honoré Fragonard’s Young Girl Reading, given to the National Gallery of Art by Ailsa Mellon Bruce in memory of her father, Andrew W. Mellon, remains one of the most widely beloved examples of the artist’s virtuosic style. In 2012 a newly discovered drawing by Fragonard further confirmed its rarity. The drawing consisted of rapidly executed, thumbnail-sized sketches, identifiable with a group of paintings by Fragonard known as his “fantasy figures” — quickly painted, vibrantly colored portraits, each showing its model in extravagant fancy costume.
At the Gallery, the discovery of the drawing prompted a collaborative study of Young Girl Reading by members of the curatorial, conservation, and scientific research departments. The team’s findings established the work as a full-fledged member of the fantasy figure series and also shed light on Fragonard’s approach to the ensemble as a whole.
The catalog brings together the known fantasy figures with the newly found drawing. Situated at the intersection of social history, fashion history, and new scientific technologies, this catalog serves as an important compendium of information on Fragonard’s fantasy figures.
176 pages | 140 illustrations | 9.75 x 12.25 inches