A book can’t be judged by its cover in Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s “Young Girl Reading.” X-rays of the work revealed another image, which Fragonard painted over with this slice of everyday life in 18th-century France. Painters of this era often depicted subjects reading, and this piece shows the lightweight, portable books popular at the time. Within the apparent calmness of the work is a strength and solidity, conveyed by the powerful geometry of the girl’s form. Fragonard (1732 – 1806) expertly created texture with a variety of thick brushstrokes, free sketching and use of the brush handle.
Rococo painter Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732 – 1806) is known for playful images, but he also painted breathtaking religious subjects, historical and mythological themes, landscapes and intimate scenes. Earning an associate academy membership at the acclaimed Salon, Fragonard declined a career in history painting, instead creating lighthearted, erotic scenes for private clients and members of the court. After marrying, he focused on painting family groups. Many respected museums display Fragonard's work, including Paris’ Louvre and New York’s Metropolitan Museum.