Online Lecture | Yuriko Jackall, The Fragonard Project

Posted in lectures (to attend), online learning by Editor on October 25, 2021

From The Wallace Collection:

Yuriko Jackall, The Fragonard Project
Zoom Webinar and YouTube, The Wallace Collection, London, 18 November 2021, 13.00 GMT

Between 2019 and 2021, five of the Wallace Collection’s eight paintings by Jean-Honoré Fragonard were cleaned and restored. This project has led to new discoveries about Fragonard’s working methods and provides the possibility for new interpretations of his work. Join our Head of Curatorial and Curator of French Paintings, Dr Yuriko Jackall, as she discusses this project and gives her reading of The Swing and its place in Fragonard’s career. She will also describe the long shadow of Fragonard’s influence, and how the ups and downs of his glittering career indelibly shaped the way in which we understand his art and the rococo aesthetic today. Thursday, 18 November 2021, 13.00 GMT.

This talk will be hosted online through Zoom and YouTube. Please click here to register for Zoom.

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From the press release for the project:

Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Les hasards heureux de l’escarpolette (The Swing), detail, after conservation, 1767–68, oil on canvas, 81 × 64 cm (London: The Wallace Collection).

Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s painting, The Swing, is the most iconic painting of the entire Rococo movement and one of the Wallace Collection’s most famous works of art. It has been admired for centuries for its romantic composition, skilful brushwork, and masterly use of colour. References to The Swing can be found in literature, contemporary art, design, and cinema. It is sought out and admired by thousands of visitors to the museum each year.

Despite its fame, relatively little is known about the painting. The circumstances of its commission are vague, with Fragonard opting to undertake a painting that other ‘academic’ painters had refused on account of its scandalous theme. Fragonard’s methods in building the composition are also unclear. In addition to this, the paint surface was previously obscured by yellowed varnish and old retouching had become visible.

Thanks to a generous grant from the Bank of America Art Conservation Project, throughout the summer of 2021 The Swing underwent intricate, sensitive highly skilled conservation and technical analysis for the first time. Uniquely, the conservation treatment has taken place in house at the Wallace Collection, with one of its conservation studios temporarily transformed especially for the purpose. The work has been undertaken by Martin Wyld, former Head of Conservation at the National Gallery, where he worked for more than 40 years restoring works by artists such as Leonardo and Velazquez.

Investigations have shed light on the mysteries surrounding The Swing and developed our understanding of Fragonard and his methods as an artist. The removal of the yellowed varnish has transformed the painting. The white lace of the young girl’s dress is now crisp, the composition has taken on a new sense of depth, background details are now apparent, and the overall freshness and texture of the artist’s paint surface has been restored. Little underdrawing or preparatory studies have been identified. Fragonard appears to have worked confidently and skilfully, directly on the canvas, to create The Swing, his finest masterpiece. The painting is being reinstalled in the specially relit galleries in November 2021, alongside the other seven Fragonard works in the Wallace Collection, allowing visitors to see for the first time how the artist developed across his career.

The return of The Swing is accompanied by a special season of events, which encompasses free public talks with special guests, a focused study course, and a book signing. The Collection has documented the conservation process and commissioned an insightful film exploring Fragonard and The Swing’s influence.

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