(b Grasse, 4 April 1732; d Paris, 22 Aug 1806).
Painter, draughtsman, printmaker and museum official.
He was the only child of François Fragonard (1699–1781) and Françoise
Petit, who both came from families of shopkeepers and glove-makers in
Grasse. In 1738 the family moved to Paris, where, on the advice of
François Boucher, Fragonard spent some time as a pupil of Jean-Siméon
Chardin. He entered Boucher’s own studio c. 1749 and probably
remained there for about a year. Boucher was then at the height of his
fame, and Fragonard doubtless assisted the overworked master on
important commissions, such as large tapestry designs. He also made
numerous copies after paintings by Boucher, such as Hercules and
Omphale (untraced; C L62), and by
Rembrandt, such as Girl with Broom (untraced;
C L19). In 1752 Fragonard entered the
competition for the Prix de Rome, relying on Boucher’s influence to
overcome the stipulation that all candidates had to be pupils at the
Académie Royale. His winning entry, Jeroboam Sacrificing to the Idols
(Paris, Ecole N. Sup. B.-A.), in fact shows little of Boucher’s teaching
but is rather painted in the grand manner of Carle Vanloo, whose
influence can be seen in the colouring, the geometrical composition and
the concern for expressive detail at this moment of high drama.