Awkward First Kiss: The Stolen Kiss

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Jean-Honoré Fragonard, The Stolen Kiss, 17
Awkward First Kiss

In Fragonard’s The Stolen Kiss, a young girl and boy attempt to steal a kiss hidden away in shadow. The young woman seems nervous in the painting, leaning towards the boy while refusing to make eye contact, scanning the room for anyone who could catch them in the act. The boy is hidden behind the door while trying to reel her in by the wrist. Everything in the room seems set to be romantic and dreamy; the light falls gently on the young couple, there is a softness of emotion in their faces, and the focus on clothing adds detail to an otherwise smoothness in the painting. 

Fragonard adds the sense of nervousness and intrigue to the painting by focusing on the emotion and body set of the young lady, leaning towards the boy while watching for the women at the party who could walk in at any time. Fragonard paints in the Rococo style with his attention to the detailing of the clothing. The focus on the painting goes from the smoothness of the young lady’s skin directly down to the satin sheen and heavy folds of her dress and then is drawn right by the blue-stripped cloth and shows the drama of the painting: the danger of being caught by the ladies on the far right, hidden in shadow. Fragonard’s focus on the heavy cloth extends to the pink heavy curtains on the doors, to the heavy cloth draped behind the chair, and finally ending on the embroidered, stylized rug. He adds to the intimate scene of the room by bathing it in warm light and keeping the room smaller to contrast to the darker tones of the hidden room on the right and the cool, intricate white detail of architecture above the party.

Fragonard’s painting seems romantic, but also shows the innocence of young love set in a court where gossip ruled and the emotion of the young girl shines through the cloud-like nature of the rest of the painting. 

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