FRAGONARD, French family of artists

French family of artists. Jean-Honoré Fragonard developed, from his beginnings as a pupil and follower of François Boucher, into the most brilliant and versatile artist in 18th-century France. He wielded brush, chalk and etcher's needle with extraordinary virtuosity, effortlessly varying his touch as he produced a succession of consummate masterpieces on themes from religion, mythology, genre and landscape. Uniquely, after promising beginnings as a history painter, he turned away from the Académie Royale and 'high art' and concentrated on lesser genres, more sympathetic to his spontaneous temperament. His independence of official circles led to a lack of securely datable projects, and much of his output can be dated, or even attributed, only tentatively. He had little direct influence on French painting, but his oeuvre shows many of the preoccupations of later artists with problems of style, subject-matter and conception. His only pupils of note were his sister-in-law Marguerite Gérard and his son Alexandre-Évariste Fragonard, who from an early age was noted as a draughtsman; during the Empire he began to work as a decorative painter and sculptor and also provided designs for the Sèvres porcelain factory. Subsequently he took up history painting, concentrating on Troubadour subjects. His son Théophile Fragonard (1806–76) also worked as a painter for Sèvres.