The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
La fontaine d'amour (The Fountain of Love)
  • Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732 - 1806)
  • La fontaine d'amour (The Fountain of Love)
  • France
  • c. 1785
  • Painting
  • Oil on canvas
  • Image size: 63.5 x 50.7 cm
  • Signature: 'fragonard'
  • P394
  • Study
Further Reading
  • The painting is part of a group of allegorical depictions of love, painted by Fragonard in the 1780s. Another version of the same composition, begun before P394, is at the Getty Museum, Los Angeles. A print by Nicolas François Regnault after the composition appeared in 1785 and seems to have used both versions as models. It therefore provides a terminus ante quem for the paintings. Technical evidence suppoorts the idea that they were painted at the same time. A smaller oil sketch for the composition is in a private collection. The two main versions are strikingly different in their mood and style - the Wallace Collection painting more neo-classical, the Getty version more Rococo. It is typical for Fragonard that he chose to switch between different styles at the same time of his career.
    The scene depicts love as a natural force and uncontrollable passion, stronger than the people affected by it. This perception of love was still recent around 1785 when Fragonard painted the two versions.While the image of a fountain of love was known, e. g. from Ariost, the image is Fragonard's pictorial invention without a direct literary source.