The Shepherdess

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Jean-Honoré Fragonard (French, 1732–1806)
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
Currently on View

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.

Publication History
Chapin, Mary Weaver. Posters of Paris: Toulouse-Lautrec & His Contemporaries. 2012, p. 22, color fig. 11. Strini, Tom. One Piece at a Time: Fragonard’s The Shepherdess. Posted July 1, 2010. < http://urbanmilwaukee.com/2010/07/01/one-piece-at-a-time-fragonards-the-shepherdess/> (accessed July 31, 2015). Molotiu, Andrei. Fragonard's Allegories of Love. Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2007, p. 64, color fig. 55. Christie’s. The Champalimaud Collection, July 6, 2005 [auction catalogue]. London: Christie’s, 2005, p. 114, illus. fig. 1. (as comparative image for sale of Fragonard’s La Jardinière) Andera, Margaret, Nonie Gadsden, Britt Salvesen, and Laurie Winters. Collection Guide: Milwaukee Art Museum. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Milwaukee Art Museum, 2004, pp. 15, 68, cat. 15, color illus. p. 15. Kluk, Maria. Konfrontacje, Inspiracje, Spotkania..., Arcydziela malarstwa europejskiego z muzeow amerykanskich i polskich (Masterpieces of European Painting from American and Polish Collections: Inspiration, Contribution, Integration). Warsaw, Poland: National Museum in Warsaw, 2003, p. 120–21, cat. 44, color illus. p. 121. Milwaukee Art Museum. Building a Masterpiece: Milwaukee Art Museum. New York: Hudson Hill Press, 2001, p. 76, color illus. p. 76. Winters, Laurie and Barry Wind. Escape to Eden: The Pastoral Vision in Eighteenth–Century France, Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Milwaukee Art Museum 1999, unpaginated, color detail front cover, b/w illus. Christie’s. French Pictures of the 17th, 18th, and 19th Centuries, June 10, 1994 [auction catalogue]. London: Christie’s, 1994, p. 57. (mentioned as comparative in entry for A Shepherdess seated with Sheep and a Basket of Flowers near a Ruin in a wooded Landscape) Cuzin, Jean Pierre. Jean-Honoré Fragonard: Life and Work. New York: Abrams, 1988, p. 33, 267, cat. 41, pl. 33. (work incorrectly credit to Charles Allis Art Museum) Goldstein, Rosalie, ed. Guide to the Permanent Collection. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Milwaukee Art Museum, 1986, p. 54, color illus. p. 54. Art Center Wins Case Over Franc Devaluation, The Wall Street Journal, May 31, 1974, p. 25. Art Work Had to Fill the Bill, Milwaukee Journal, May 17, 1974. New Painting for Art Center Costs More Than $200,000, newspaper unknown, date unknown. Réau, Louis. Fragonard: Sa Vie et Son Oeuvre. Brussels: Elsevier, 1956, p. 172. (as L’Agneau Retrouvé in the collection of Mme Elisabeth Wildenstein) Gronau, G. Catalogue of the Bachstitz Gallery. Vol. 1. Catalogue of Paintings and Tapestries. Berlin: Frisch, 1921, cat. 67, b/w illus. (as Boucher) Gimpel, René. Exhibition of Paintings and Drawings by Fragonard at the Galleries of E. Gimpel and Wildenstein. New York: Hill-Matthews Co., 1914, p. 5.
Exhibition History
Konfrontacje, Inspiracje, Spotkania..., Arcydziela malarstwa europejskiego z muzeow amerykanskich i polskich (Masterpieces of European Painting from American and Polish Collections: Inspiration, Contribution, Integration), National Museum of Warsaw, Poland, February 28–May 4, 2003. Exchange loan to Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, October 2000–April 2001. Escape to Eden: The Pastoral Vision in Eighteenth–Century France, Milwaukee Art Museum, March 19, 1999–May 30, 1999. Rehabilitation du suject, Galerie Andre J. Seligman, Paris, October –December 1934. (according to letter from A. Seligmann in object file, painting was loaned by Elisabeth Wildenstein-Paraf; painting not included in catalogue and Elisabeth Wilderstein-Paraf not listed as lender) Féderation des Artistes, 1928. (loaned by Nathan Wildenstein)


This information is subject to change as the result of ongoing research.