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The Souvenir
  • Date: c.1776–8
  • Object Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil on panel
  • Image size: 25.2 x 19 cm
  • Object size: 26.5 x 20.5 cm, made up with oak strips at each edge
  • Inv: P382
  • Location: Study
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Further Reading
  • A young girl, identified in a sale catalogue of 1792 as Rousseau’s heroine, Julie, carves an initial into the bark of a tree, while being observed by her pet spaniel, the symbol of her fidelity. The theme reflects the increasing in the sensation of human emotion during the second half of the eighteenth century. Its scale and careful technique also show Fragonard varying his style to echo the contemporary taste for Dutch seventeenth-century cabinet paintings, although he continued to animate such stylistic references with his own theatrical lighting, delicate draughtsmanship and calligraphic traceries of hair and foliage.

    The painting is remarkable for his play with the idea of the artist's signature. It is signed at the lower right in a traditional way, but the woman also carves the letter 'F' (and not 'S' as was thought at some point) into the tree, thus signing the painting from within the scene.