The Fountain of Love by Jean-Honoré Fragonard, c. 1886
The Fountain of Love Originally Painted by Jean-Honoré Fragonard and Engraved by Frederick Miller for The Art Journal, c. 1886.
This mezzotint recreates a 1785 oil painting. Two robust figures, a man and a woman, lean towards a cup held out by a small cherub as curved trees bend forward behind them. The two are both smiling in anticipation of tasting the waters, which have been taken from the fountain of love. The cherubs' playful expressions and the graceful bodies of the lovers give the image an airy atmosphere. The classically inspired figures are draped in toga-like garments in this fanciful Rococo painting. Rococo was an artistic style that was popular amongst the French elite. While the style flourished amongst the courts of France, the artistic movement dominated most of Europe throughout the 18th century. Rococo paintings (which often appeared on wall panels at royal palaces) consist of pastel colors, romantic scenes, and sensuously designed gardens.
Born in Grasse in the year 1732, Jean-Honoré Fragonard became one of the Rococo period's leading painters. He was instructed by Francois Boucher in Paris and trained at the École Royale des Elèves Protégés. While at the French Academy in Rome, he studied the Baroque style, whose curving lines and dramatic style influenced in his own creations. His masterful works - created for patrons such as Madame du Barry, a mistress of the French king - have been described by the Metropolitan Museum of Art as "painterly" focusing on "the playful, the erotic, and the joys of domesticity." Towards the end of his life, Neoclassicism rose in popularity and the French Revolution caused chaos amongst the royals, leading to a loss of commissions for Fragonard, who was no longer well known by his death in 1806.
The Art Union Monthly Journal was first published by Hodgson and Graves in 1839, but was later purchased by Virtue & Co. one decade later due to financial struggles. Although they attempted to reinvent the publication, even renaming it as The Art Journal, finances did not improve until 1852. The journal printed engravings of significant artworks, such as The Fountain of Love, to accompany their essays on the pieces, the artists, and artistic movements. Critics that worked for The Art Journal were deeply concerned with the progress of art and idolized the Old Masters of the High Renaissance. The journal, which was in print until 1912, also reviewed the Royal Academy's annual exhibitions and is now remembered for a decade-long crusade against the work of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.
- Onastasia Youssef