The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
An Unknown Woman
  • Marie-Anne Fragonard (1745 - 1806)
  • An Unknown Woman
  • France
  • c. 1770 - 1790
  • Miniature
  • Painted on ivory
  • Image size: 6.5 x 4.8 cm
    Frame size: 10.7 x 8.9 cm
  • M110
  • Boudoir Cabinet
Commentary
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • This ‘Head of a Girl’ belongs to a group of miniatures which all have a close relationship with the work of Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732-1806). They are similar in style and subject to his work and have traditionally been attributed to Fragonard. Occasionally, they have been regarded as works by his wife Marie-Anne, and for good reason this theory has more recently gained support. Marie-Anne Fragonard is mentioned as a miniature painter in eighteenth-century sources. She exhibited at the Salon de la Correspondance, a regular independent art exhibition, in 1779 and 1782, and her name appears in several catalogues in the eighteenth century. While it is certain that Marie-Anne was working as a miniature painter, any evidence for Jean-Honoré’s activity in this area is slim. Only in a few isolated cases is a miniature related to Jean-Honoré in the earlier sources. It would have been most unusual if he had practiced miniature painting. While miniature painters ventured occasionally into making larger drawings and easel paintings, we know of no major easel painter of the period who was also active regularly as a painter of miniatures. A combination of pastel and miniature painting seems to have been more usual. In the case of the ‘Head of a Girl’, the title of a slightly later engraving by an otherwise unknown artist, Delaneau, confirms that it was painted by Marie-Anne. Another ‘Head of a Girl’ in the Wallace Collection (M111) might very well be another less successful work by Marie-Anne.