Jean Honoré Fragonard (French, 1732–1806)—one of the most forward-looking and inventive artists of the 18th century—was equally skilled in painting, drawing, and etching. Yet, unlike many old masters for whom drawing was a preparatory tool, Fragonard explored the potential of chalk, ink, and wash to create sheets that were works of art in their own right. As displays of virtuosity and an imaginative spirit, his drawings were highly prized from his own day to the present, and New York has long been a center for collecting these works.
The exhibition Fragonard: Drawing Triumphant—Works from New York Collections, opening October 6 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, will celebrate the artist’s achievements as a master draftsman. A similar brio and inventiveness mark the artist’s etchings, and examples of these will also be featured. Among the 100 works on paper on view, nearly half are from private collections, some of which will be shown publicly for the first time. The exhibition will thus provide a rare opportunity to see well-loved masterpieces alongside new discoveries and works that have long been out of the public eye.