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Notes on video lecture:
Rococo Eroticism in 18th Century Popular Culture
Choose from these words to fill the blanks below:
consummated, encoded, vaguely, caught, learning, print, coded, integrity, reprimanded, Rococo, unmade, head, Revolution, rush, Fragonard, academy, motifs, armoire, career, middle
Jean-Honore                    (1732-1806)
a student of Boucher
successful              on his own
had an unofficial career
had joined the                as a student
was never officially in the academy since he didn't submit the final work
was able to have a successful career outside of court circles
producing a number of prints for the            market
different market
accessible to a more              class
Enlightenment writers and critics
concerned with moral                    of society
               sexualized paintings without any sort of ethical conclusion
prints were supposed to have narratives that could be understood by middle class audiences which may not understand the            references in higher art
1778 The Armoire
can be                by various audiences
a bedroom scene
the                is the cupboard
lover on left-hand side
her angry parents on right
the bed is             , they have been in the bed
onlookers at the door to enjoy the action and drama and the scene
a little boy and little girl on the right who are                  from this scene
may not understand the full sexuality of the narrative
but understand that these two people have been              doing something that the parents think they shouldn't have been doing
code: his hat
one hand holding onto the armoire
the other hand you can't see
hat is being held up not by a hand
yet the hat is on his         , so to say
remorse at being caught
you read from right to left to understand the scene
the          of the parents
sexuality that has been                       
then from left to right to interpret the scene
sexuality that has been                       
the end of             
French artists responding to more middle class values
but there are still references back to the coded, sexual or erotic              that also entertai elite viewers
and see a continuity from the early Rococo stages into its later stages about 10 years prior to the                     


######################### (1732-1806)
French painter and printmaker whose late Rococo manner was distinguished by remarkable facility, exuberance, and hedonism
  • one of the most prolific artists active in the last decades of the Ancien Régime, Fragonard produced more than 550 paintings (not counting drawings and etchings)
  • among his most popular works are genre paintings conveying an atmosphere of intimacy and veiled eroticism
  • while working at the French Academy in Rome, he toured Italy, executing numerous sketches of local scenery and it was in these romantic gardens, with their fountains, grottos, temples and terraces, that Fragonard conceived the dreams which he was subsequently to render in his art
  • before a portrait of his was bought by the king, Fragonard had hesitated between religious, classic and other subjects, but the subsequent demand of the wealthy art patrons of Louis XV's pleasure-loving and licentious court turned him definitely towards those scenes of love and voluptuousness with which his name will ever be associated, and which are only made acceptable by the tender beauty of his color and the virtuosity of his facile brushwork, such works including the Le collin maillard (Blind Man's Bluff), Serment d'amour (Love Vow), Le Verrou (The Bolt), and L'Escarpolette (The Swing)
  • for half a century or more he was so completely ignored that Wilhelm Lübke's 1873 art history volume omits the very mention of his name
  • subsequent reevaluation has confirmed his position among the all-time masters of French painting
  • the influence of Fragonard's handling of local color and expressive, confident brushstroke on the Impressionists cannot be overestimated

Spelling Corrections:


Ideas and Concepts:

Decoding 18th century French ink prints via this morning's Sexing the Canvas course:

"While François Boucher was a member of the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture, Jean-Honore Fragonard was not, since he never delivered his final painting in order to become a member. One reason he might not have felt it necessary to be a member was he had found a successful market outside of court circles, mostly creating prints instead of paintings for the middle class who were able to afford prints.

At the time, Enlightenment writers and critics were concerned with moral integrity of society, and so it was important when producing art work for the middle class to avoid vaguely sexualized paintings which had no ethical conclusion. Works produced for the print market were expected to have easy-to-understand narratives which contained a clear moral lesson.

Yet Fragonard was sophisticated enough to slip into his prints vague and coded signs and symbols which could be understood and enjoyed by the more educated classes of society. His 1778 print L'Armoire is an example of this.

We see a bedroom scene, the armoire opened with a man a man caught in the act of improper societal behavior stepping out, his remorseful lover to the left, presumably her angry parents to the right having just rushed in on the scene and leaning toward him with the intent of retribution, and on the far right, younger children peeking in the door learning the lessons of society as they watch this exciting scene.

At first glance this is a quite humorous scene with a simple and serious narrative which teaches the moral that one should not engage in improper sexual behavior and if one does, one will suffer the consequences.

However, if we direct our attention to the large hat in the center of the left side of the print, we see that the man's right hand is exposed and touching the door frame as he steps out of the armoir. And while the location of his other hand remains vague, Fragonard has included enough shadow under the man's coat to indicate that the man's left hand is not in front of him but most probably holding onto something behind him to maintain his balance as he steps out of the armoir which has quite a high step.

So the question becomes:What is holding up the hat?

The answer, of course, is the man's erect penis, which elevates this quite serious and moral scene into one of light ribaldry, sending the viewer's mind down a trail of wit as the viewer perhaps reconsiders the appropriateness of this young man's behavior, e.g. that he is indeed wearing his hat on his head and had merely removed it to please the woman."
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Boucher's Madame de Pompadour: Controlling the Gaze
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