(b Grasse, 5 Apr. 1732; d Paris, 22 Aug. 1806). French painter whose scenes of frivolity and gallantry are among the most complete embodiments of the Rococo spirit: he has been described as the ‘fragrant essence’ of the 18th century. After a brief period studying with Chardin, to whom he was temperamentally unsuited, Fragonard became Boucher's most brilliant pupil and in 1752 won the Prix de Rome, even though he was not officially qualified to enter the competition as he was not a student at the Académie Royale (Boucher said ‘It does not matter: you are my pupil’). From 1756 to 1761 he lived in Rome, where he eschewed the work of the approved masters of the High Renaissance and instead found inspiration in a freer and more colourful tradition, represented above all by Tiepolo.

Text source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)

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