The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
The Small Park (Le petit parc)
  • Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732 - 1806)
  • The Small Park (Le petit parc)
  • Paris, France
  • probably c. 1762 - c. 1764
  • Painting
  • Oil on canvas
  • Image size: 36.6 x 45 cm
    Frame size: 49 x 57.5 x 6 cm
  • P379
  • Study
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Painted after his summer spent sketching in Italian parks during a trip to Italy with the Abbé de Saint-Non in 1760/1, this is one of Fragonard's most beautiful landscape paintings. The leafy landscape may have been inspired the Dragon Fountain and gardens at the Villa d'Este in Tivoli, where Fragonard made a large number of drawings. However, the final image characteristically owes more to the artist’s imagination than faithfully recreating the original reference.
    Six related variants of the composition are known: two red chalk drawings (New York, private collection), a counter-proof (Sacramento, Crocker Art Gallery), an engraving (dated 1763), this painting, and a gouache (New York, Morgan Library and Museum). The works were probably made in this order and illustrate how Fragonard explored the motif by changing direction, medium and scale of the image. Rather than clearly distinguishable as preparatory studies, finished work and copies, these works seem to have been made without a clear development in mind. Especially later in his career Fragonard often produced sketch-like works which were never meant to be translated into a 'finished' work. These 'experiments' appealed to a well-informed group of connaisseurs collecting his work.
    The Abbé de Saint-Non and Franz Edmund Weirotter also produced etchings after the same composition, and drawings by Hubert Robert with the same motives exist, illustrating a regular exchange within this group of amateurs and artists.