The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Say Please (Dites donc s'il vous plaît)
  • Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732 - 1806)
  • Say Please (Dites donc s'il vous plaît)
  • France
  • c. 1780
  • Painting
  • Oil on canvas
  • Image size: 28.9 x 37.2 cm
  • Signature: 'A.B.C.D.E. Fragonard / G.H.I.K.L.M.N.'
  • P404
  • Study
Further Reading
  • In a schoolroom, a little boy stands hesitantly before a young schoolmistress who is about to cut him a slice of bread. A marmalade cat and the little boy's classmates look on. On the right the busts of the ancient philosophers peer from the gloom above an alphabet-board and the jumble of coats recall the students' hasty arrival for class.
    Relating both to Fragonard's pictures of the late 1750s and early 1760s depicting peasant life in dilapidated Italian interiors, and to his childhood scenes of the 1780s, the painting may be dated c.1780. It is an exercise in a Rembrandt colour scheme, typical for Fragonard's works in the styles of other masters. Education was a favourite subject during the Enlightenment. Fragonard adopts a wittier, playful approach questioning more serious educational ideals. The painting is among the relatively rare works by Fragonard that are signed - in this case hidden among the letters on the board.