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Mistakenly thought to be by Boucher when acquired by the 4th Marquess of Hertford, 'The Musical Contest' is an early work by Fragonard dating from the period immediately following his time in Boucher's studio, c.1754–1755. The subject is inspired by Boucher's pastorals, and may be compared with that master's 'Summer Pastoral' (Boucher P489). The handling, however, is characteristic of Fragonard, with a warmer palette combined with greater attention to surface effect and use of impasto. Similarly, the theatrical flickering light effects, calligraphic foliage, and twisting poses with swirling drapery all reveal the hand of Fragonard.

The Wallace Collection





oil on canvas


H 62 x W 74 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

acquired by Richard Seymour-Conway, 4th Marquess of Hertford, after 1842; bequeathed to the nation by Lady Wallace, 1897

Work type



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The Wallace Collection

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

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