Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732 - 1806)
- The Small Park (Le petit parc)
- Paris, France
- probably c. 1762 - c. 1764
- Oil on canvas
- Image size: 36.6 x 45 cm
Frame size: 49 x 57.5 x 6 cm
- One of Fragonard#s most beautiful landscape paintings and the finest of a group of related works inspired by Fragonard's summer spent sketching in Italian parks during his trip to Italy with the Abbé de Saint-Non in 1760/61: two red chalk drawings (New York, private collection), a counter-proof (Sacramento, Crocker Art Gallery), a gouache (New York, Morgan Library and Museum), an engraving and this painting The composition might have been based upon the appearance of the Dragon Fountain at the Villa d'Este in Tivoli, where Fragonard made a large number of drawings, although characteristically it has been transformed by Fragonard's imagination. The relative sequence of these works and their dating is unclear. It is some times assumed, that Fragonard executed at least one of the drawings in Italy, although this is far from certain. Around 1763, when back in Paris, Fragonard etched the composition with the title 'Le Petit Parc' based on a drawing. Fragonard's painting was probably also painted in Paris, based on the same drawing. A detailed gouache on vellum by Fragonard is probably a repetition of the Wallace Collection painting.
It is typical for Fragonard's working method that a motif could travel between different media without a clear direction or development. The artist often produced more sketch-like works late in the process or painted works like oil sketches that were never meant to be translated into a 'finished' work. These experiments appealed to a well-informed group of connaisseurs collection Fragonard's 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. This group of works is typical for the regular exchange within this group of amateurs and artists.