A Shaded Avenue

7:00 AM

Fragonard, A Shaded Avenue, 1773

When I enthusiastically chose Fragonard in class this week, a few key words came to mind: "naughty", "hedonism,", and "trees." I scrolled through pieces like The Swing and the like, blatant eroticism abounding, and then I came upon this. There is nothing blatant about this piece other than Fragonard's pride in his trees. The entire scene is about the distractions around this couple's secret rendezvous, whether that be the girl picking weeds or the statue and those gazing at it in the corner, but especially the overwhelming archway of trees. It is intimate in the cleverest of ways, with the entire piece emphasizing how hard it is for these lovers to be alone with each other, finding the one place they can meet without disapproving eyes. The girl wears a bonnet and apron while her suitor wears a suit, so their class difference is apparent.

But the truly unique aspect of the piece is how inconspicuous every character in it is. There is no emphasis on the couple or the onlookers at all. They are all completely overshadowed by the trees reaching into the heavens. Fragonard uses similar colors all through the piece to blend the characters into these sky-scraping trees, with dark greens and browns giving the scene a far more natural tone than his usual work. Honestly, the colors make every part of the scene seem natural, in both the way of the vegetation and of their romance. Fragonard is awful sneaky...

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