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French Rococo Painter : Jean-Honore Fragonard. The Stolen Kiss. (1787-89). 
Oil on Canvas. 45 x 55 cm
Hermitage Museum. St Petersburg.


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French Rococo Painter : Jean-Honore Fragonard. The Stolen Kiss. (1787-89). Oil on Canvas. 45 x 55 cm
Hermitage Museum. St Petersburg.

In 1747 Fragonard enters in training to the workshop of Jean Baptiste Chardin then one year later that of François Boucher. Very quickly it can copy its Masters so perfectly that even an expert cannot distinguish the original from the copy. Thus the Worship of the Shepherds (1750) is first of all allotted To stop whereas, as it then will be discovered, work is signed by Fragonard. It is François Boucher who includes/understands and affirms the gifts of the young boy by presenting it to the contest of Rome from which it gains the first price in 1752. After three years of study with the French painter Carle Van Loo at the school of the protected pupils, it remains a few years in Italy (1753-1756). Residing at the Academy of France, it binds friendship with its compatriot, the painter Hubert Robert and the abbot of Saint-Not who becomes his guard and his principal silent partner. As of its return in France in 1761, Fragonard is accommodated like an experienced painter. It obtains the recognition of the Court, the public orders and a workshop in Louvre. Its painting Coresus and Callirhoe (1765) is admired and introduces it with the Academy. Better, the king buys the painting after the living room… This opens the door of the court with Fragonard which one charges with the decoration of the ceiling of the Apollon gallery. However it leaves the register of the mythological scenes for gallant, tinted scenes erotism and prickly scenes which obtain even more success. He becomes painter of tables of cabinets, place where the noble ones involve the pretty young women to court them… and more if affinity… This change of register is worth some disappointments at the court to him. At the request of Madam of Barry, Mistress of Louis XV, it must carry out a series of ornamental panels for her house of Louveciennes. In the series, 4 painting are refused because private of a mythological envelope as at Boucher. At that time one can all show if it is Greek gods or about Zeus courting a nymph, but if the subject is a Shepherd wanting to charm an young girl nothing is allowed. It thus finds customers among the political friends and the amateurs of Art. There exists a constant at Fragonard, one often sees boring a concern, a feeling of end of festival or a diffuse threat. Fragonard felt certainly the nearest arrival of the French revolution. This one puts at bottom the aristocracy, silent partner of its works, and ruins it. Its painting is considered to be too frivolous for one so serious period. Friends of Jacques Louis David it crosses this time under good conditions in spite of the prohibition of its Art. It loses its fortune and its customers, ruined or exiled. Thanks to David it obtains a station of conservative to the museum (the future Museum of Louvre), station of which it is expelled by imperial decree in 1805. As in the Bolt, heavy of insinuation, this stolen kiss lets plane a threat, in the adjacent part the ladies play charts and the lovers can be surprised. In this case the dressmaker can say good-bye to her place and the servant also… 

The point of view of the spectator is at the level of the face of the two lovers.

1.The glance is first of all attracted by the kiss. 2. According to the arm of the dressmaker then the shawl on the downward diagonal from left to right. 3. the spectator discovers the half-opened door and threatens it which planes. 

The 2 faces are on the natural point of left superior interest. 
The leaning body of the dressmaker is located between the 2 natural points of left interest, exactly on the tension field. 
The shawl and limps it with seam, which explain the presence of the dressmaker in the part are on the natural point of interest lower right. The composition of the painting is remarkable. 

To accentuate the prickly and picturesque atmosphere of the scene and the taking risk of the 2 servants, Fragonard plunges a third of work, all the background, in the half-light, where somebody could be dissimulated…

The painting is built on the downward diagonal from left to right. 
The guiding lines of the shawl, the body of the dressmaker and even the folds of its dress go in the same direction. 


The servant draws the dressmaker by the sleeve to steal a kiss to him on the cheek, with the corner of the lips. The glance of the young woman is anxious. The 2 lovers could be surprised well… 

This limps with open seam and this piece of fabric explain the presence of the young girl in the part. 

In the adjacent part it seems that the hosts receive and play charts. 

Light : The scene is enlightened line. The light concentrates especially on the dress of the young girl. 

Colours: Contrasts between hot and cold colours.

Similar paintings : 

Jean-Honore Fragonard. 
Young girl playing with a dog. 1765-72
70 X 87 cm

Jean-Honore Fragonard. 
The Swing. 1767
81 x 64 cm

Jean-Honore Fragonard. 
The Bolt. Between 1774 and 1778. 73 X 93 cm