Jean-Honore Fragonard’s painting “Fantastic Figure: Portrait of Abbe de Saint-Non” was created in 1769. The subject, Jean-Claude Richard, was a supporter and patron of Fragonard. This painting is part of a larger fourteen-piece art series entitled “Fanciful Figures,” eight of which are displayed in the Louvre Museum.
Fragonard, one of the last representatives of rococo art, stylizes his pieces with touches known as “virtuosity of speed” or rapid brushstrokes that give it an overall light and spontaneous feel. There are some elements that suggest this painting may represent childhood, similarly to Chardin’s work pioneered in France during the same period.
The Abbe de Saint-Non had a close relationship with Fragonard and accompanied him on his travels throughout Italy. During their trip together they made hundreds of sketches of local scenery and studied Italian paintings and antiquities. The Abbe also contributed to the development of aquatint printing techniques in printmaking.
Aside from this portrait, others include one centered around military that depicts a soldier next to his horse on behalf of Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya’s collection. Looking at these pieces together provides insight into Fragonard’s artistic style as well as his friend the Abbe de Saint-Non.