Nov. Lobby Painting- The Love Letter

You can see the original of this painting, The Love Letter,

By Jean-Honoré Fragonard at

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan!


In this painting, entitled The Love Letter, we see a lady who has been caught sending a love letter or flowers to someone special.  Only the lady’s face is painted in detail.  The further away we move from her face, the less detailed the brushstrokes become.  This helps to emphasize the element of surprise.

The three dominant elements of art are color, texture, and shape.  The woman’s dress, painted in blue, is opposite of the yellows surrounding her.  Although only the woman’s face is in detail, we can make out her lace cap, the dog’s curly coat, and the shiny taffeta of her dress.  The artist did not use any contour lines to define his shapes.  The effect is that it was painted like a sketch – freely and quickly.

The main principle of design used by the artist is dominance.  The person is the most important element in the painting.  The viewer’s eye is attracted to her face, which is looking toward us, but also to the letter and the bouquet of flowers.  We can see this is a young woman in love.

About the Artist

Jean-Honoré Fragonard was born in 1732 in France.  He studied painting in France and Italy.  He was best known for his romantic paintings and love scenes but he was also a landscape painter.  After he married in 1773, he began to paint sentimental portraits of children.  His sketchbook-like style gave his paintings an improvised look.  Towards the end of his life, he went out of fashion and died in 1806, unknown and financially ruined.