(b. 1700, Aix-en-Provence, d. 1783, Paris)
The Adoration of the Skulls1733-34
Oil on canvas, 53 x 64 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington
The enigmatic subject matter of this painting and its pendant Preaching of a Monk (Musée du Louvre, Paris) have left room for different interpretations of their significance. The use of skulls and crucifixes in the meditation represented evokes a form of devotion that grew in popularity during the Counter-Reformation and that was closely associated with the Capuchin branch of the Franciscan order. It was also proposed that the pendants are imaginary capricci involving monks, in which the artist gave free play to his imagination. Such paintings can be found in the oeuvre of the contemporary Venetian painter Alessandro Magnasco, and it is likely that Dandré-Bardon drew on his knowledge of this artist's work to create his pendants.
Formerly the painting was attributed to Jean-Honoré Fragonard.