The Shepherdess, ca. 1750/52
Oil on canvas
46 3/4 × 63 in. (118.75 × 160.02 cm)
Bequest of Leon Kaumheimer M1974.64
Photo credit: John R. Glembin
The lighthearted gallantry of Rococo master Jean-Honoré Fragonard often provides elegant dressing for a worldly lesson in courtship and love. The theme of the pastoral tryst offered just such an opportunity: an idyllic, bountiful natural setting filled with blooms, bowers, and willing maidens. Fragonard’s lovely shepherdess is the epitome of feminine beauty. She awaits the arrival of a young shepherd who has gone to retrieve a lost lamb. Resting barefoot on the ground and attended by a faithful member of her flock, she whiles away the minutes playfully weaving garlands, perhaps to adorn her lover. The amorous and often overtly naughty themes symbolically embedded within much 18th-century French genre painting made the canvases attractive to sophisticated aristocratic collectors.
This information is subject to change as the result of ongoing research.