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A Gathering at Woods' Edge

Jean Honoré Fragonard (French, Grasse 1732–1806 Paris)

Red chalk
14 3/4 x 19 3/8 in. (37.5 x 49.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 1995
Accession Number:
  • Description

    Unlike the majority of Fragonard's red chalk landscapes, made during a summer at Tivoli in 1760, this drawing is a work of the artist's maturity, probably dating to just before his second trip to Italy in 1773–74. Dense deciduous trees recall the forests around Paris rather than the Roman campagna. The unhesitating, even virtuoso, handling suggests it is an independent work, probably created in the studio from a related plein-air study now in a private collection.

    A stand of mature trees, bursting with profuse sunlit foliage, guards the shady entrance to the woods. In a characteristic manipulation of scale, Fragonard presents small groupings of elegant figures, half lost in shadow, as restrained echoes of the vigor and fecundity of the overgrown landscape. The dramatic naturalism associated with the Dutch landscapists, especially Jacob van Ruisdael, is here merged with a vision of nature as a welcoming milieu for aristocratic dalliance, a legacy of Watteau's fêtes galantes.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Signature: Lower center, in red chalk: frago . . .

  • Provenance

    Jacques Doucet (French, Paris 1853–1929 Paris), his sale, Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, June 4, 1912, lot 14 (repr.); Marius Paulme (per Ananoff); Maurice Fenaille ; Mr. and Mrs. François Panafieu (daugher of M. Fenaille and her husband); M. Panafieu's anonymous sale, Paris, Hôtel Drouot, June 23, 1959, lot 6; Vendor: Wildenstein & Co., Inc. (New York)

  • Exhibition History

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," August 21, 1995–November 26, 1995.

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Eighteenth-Century French Drawings in New York Collections," February 3, 1999–April 25, 1999.

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Philippe de Montebello Years: Curators Celebrate Three Decades of Acquisitions," October 24, 2008–February 1, 2009.

  • Catalogue Raisonné

    Ananoff 1961.336

  • References

    Beautés de Provence. Exh. cat., Paris. Galerie Charpentier, Paris, 1937, cat. no. 212.

    Expositions de dessins de Fragonard Exh. cat. Paris, Jacques Seligmann. 1931, cat. no. 101, p. 50.

    Exposition d'oeuvres de J.-H. Fragonard Exh. cat., Paris, Musée des Arts Décoratifs. Paris, 1921, cat. no. 198, p. 56.

    Georges Wildenstein Expositions d'oeuvres de J.-H. Fragonard.. Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, 1921, cat. no. 198, p. 56.

    J. Lejeaux Exposition de l'art français au XVIIIe siècle. Copenhagen, Palais de Charlottenborg, 1935, cat. no. 369, p. 113.

    Beautés de la Provence. Exh. cat. Galerie Charpentier, Paris, 1947, cat. no. 212.

    François Fosca Les dessins de Fragonard. Paris and Lausanne, 1954, cat. no. 9, p. 53, ill.

    François Daulte Fragonard. Exh. cat. Musée des Beaux-Arts, Bern, Bern, 1954, cat. no. 73, fig. no. pl. xv, p. 38, ill.

    Alexandre Ananoff L'oeuvre dessiné de Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732-1806) Catalogue raisonné. Paris, 1961-1970, cat. no. 336, fig. no. 118, pp. 151, vol. 1, ill.

    Great Drawings of All Time. Edited by Ira Moskowitz, vol. 3, New York, 1962, cat. no. 699.

    Colin Eisler Paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection: European Schools Excluding Italian. Oxford, 1977, cat. no. 3, pp. 329-332, ill.

    Jean Cailleux, Marianne Roland Michel Sanguines, dessins français du dix-huitième siècle. Ex. cat. Galerie Cailleux, Paris, Paris, 1978, cat. no. 12, p. 37.

    Eunice Williams Drawings by Fragonard in North American Collections. Washington and Cambridge, MA, 1979, cat. no. under no. 49, p. 126.

    Denys Sutton Fragonard. Ex. cat. Tokyo, 1980, cat. no. 116, n.p.

    Perrin Stein "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 1995-1996." in The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1996, p. 39, ill.

    Carmen C. Bambach, Suzanne Boorsch, Nadine Orenstein, Carolyn Logan, Perrin Stein "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 1995-1996." in The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, vol. 54, no. 2, Autumn 1996, (entry by Perrin Stein), p. 39, ill.

    Alastair Laing "New York French eighteenth-century drawings." Burlington Magazine. vol. 141, no. 1155, London, June 1999, pp. 378, 379.

    Perrin Stein, Mary Tavener Holmes Eighteenth-Century French Drawings in New York Collections Ex. cat. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1999, cat. no. 70, pp. 164-166, ill.

    C. G. Boerner LLC, New York Old Master Drawings. Ex. cat., 22nd January - 8th February. New York, 2003, cat. no. under no. 32, fig. no. 1, ill.

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History