Previous
The Fountain of Love
Enlarge (20MB) Zoom in
This image is available for download, without charge, under the Getty's Open Content Program.

Jean-Honoré Fragonard
French, about 1785
Oil on canvas
24 1/2 x 20 1/4 in.
99.PA.30

Add to Getty Bookmarks

In the midst of a verdant forest, a young man and woman eagerly rush forward, their feet just reaching the edge of a fountain's basin. Putti frolic in the fountain's waters and billowing spray, and one of them offers a cup of the magical liquid for the young lovers to drink. The story of the Garden of Love, an allegory of the nature and progress of love that has its origins in the poetry of classical antiquity and the Middle Ages, centers on this Fountain of Love. The fountain brings forth the water in which Cupid dips his arrows or from which lovers drink and fall in love. In nearly every period, artists have painted this romantic motif. During the 1700s, artists came to treat the Fountain of Love almost as a genre subject, with lovers in contemporary dress flirting in a garden around a decorative fountain. With this version, Jean-Honoré Fragonard returned the allegory to its classical origins and imbued it with the thrilling rush of those first beguiling moments of love. The quintessential Rococo artist, Fragonard responded to the Neoclassical movement in an extremely inventive manner, adding a soft, steamy atmosphere to his cameo-like figures.