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Happy Lovers, c. 1751–1755

Jean-Honoré Fragonard
French, 1732-1806
Oil on canvas
35-1/2 x 47-3/4 in. (90.2 x 121.3 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
© The Norton Simon Foundation

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The pleasure-loving character of the Rococo is joyously expressed in this delightful painting by Jean-Honoré Fragonard. A young couple enjoys themselves in a secluded rustic retreat. Branches, leaves and flowers form an embroidered arbor around the pair that is as frivolous and gay as the scene itself. Fragonard’s tactile brushwork creates a voluptuous surface that compliments the subject. The pretty young girl plays the temptress to the boy who is the willing object of her affection. Above his head, she dangles a bird cage, with its door already ajar. As a symbol both moralizing and erotic, its implications for the dalliance between the young couple would have been easily recognizable to its eighteenth century audience.

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