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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, ‘Say Please’ may be dated c.1780. Education was a favourite subject during the Enlightenment. Fragonard adopts a wittier, more playful approach and, better than any other artist of the period, captures a sense of childish gaiety and fun.

The Wallace Collection



'Say Please' (Dites donc s'il vous plaît)




oil on canvas


H 28.9 x W 37.2 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

acquired by Richard Seymour-Conway, 4th Marquess of Hertford, 1841; bequeathed to the nation by Lady Wallace, 1897

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The Wallace Collection

Hertford House, Manchester Square, London, Greater London W1U 3BN England

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