The Art of Lingerie: Jean-Honoré Fragonard

I chose Fragonard for my second lingerie/artist pairing because of the playfulness of his work and its slight hint of naughtiness. In some ways, Fragonard’s work shares those qualities with some of my favorite lingerie.

For those of you who don’t know his work, Jean-Honoré Fragonard was a French painter and printmaker who lived from 1732-1806. His work encapsulates the late Rococo style and some of his most popular works were genre paintings characterized by their intimacy and covert eroticism. Fragonard’s work is very much associated with the Ancien Regime, so this is an excellent companion piece to my post on lingerie inspired by Marie Antoinette.

[Click on images below to view larger]

Fred & Ginger, The Swing, La Lilouche

Whenever I think of Fragonard, I think of this painting, The Swing— partly because it is his most famous work, but partly because it encapsulates everything I associate with him, from the bright, summery palette to the sexual implications of the woman’s foot flicking off her shoe to a man hiding in the bushes. This painting very much tells a story– of an extra-marital love affair. The woman on the swing kicks off her shoe to her lover lying in the bushes, and if you follow the gaze of the lover, you can see that his sight-line goes straight up the woman’s skirts to her undergarments (even as it seems that they are gazing at each other). And if you look at the statue over the man’s head, Cupid is putting his fingers to his lips, showing that this relationship is covert. Pushing the swing, in the shadows, is a man who is generally thought to be her husband, oblivious to the fact that he is actually pushing his wife straight into the arms of her lover.

The flirty combination of pink and yellow on this Fred & Ginger bra definitely fit with the luxurious, flouncy dress of the woman in this painting and the gorgeous gathered lace added a necessary luxurious touch. The La Lilouche set is perfect because the fullness and ruffles of the chemise mimic the skirt in the painting, while its translucency and the visible outlines of nipple pasties follow the painting’s interest in the balance between clothed & unclothed, propriety and sexuality.

Stumpet & Pink, A Young Girl Reading, Angela Friedman

A Young Girl Reading is not one of Fragonard’s best known works, but I just had to include it because of the rich, beautiful colors (especially the yellow). In many ways the sensual nature of the Strumpet & Pink knickers does not fit with this more reserved portrait, but the similarities in the coloring meant that I had to put them together. The entire aesthetic of Strumpet & Pink is so fitting with Fragonard’s decorative, sensual, Rococo style. This Angela Friedman corset and these ruffled panties follow more closely the silhouette of the period and the delicate shades fits well with the coloring of this Fragonard sketch. Fragonard’s ability to render silk well means that matching silk lingerie to his work was a natural fit.

La Lilouche, Love Me Sugar, Blind Man’s Buff, I.D. Sarrieri

The playful nature of this last Fragonard painting, Blind Man’s Bluff, works so well with the lingerie pieces I picked out as companions. The Love Me Sugar eyemask was a must considering that the woman in the painting is blindfolded, playing a game. The pale blue bows on the La Lilouche stockings matched perfectly with the blue bows adorning the central figure’s costume and actually resemble the kind of stocking that would have been worn in this period. Finally, the I.D. Sarrieri bra and knickers set was just as delicate and beautiful, both the color and the lace itself, that it seemed to fit with the luxurious scenery depicted as well as Fragaonard’s detailed and decorative style.

Now I just want to jump into a pile of knickers and look at a lot more Fragonard paintings (preferably while lounging on a divan). I think I like this collection even better than last week’s– what do you think?

  1. Ahh this is so awesome! Rococo artists really should’ve been the first to come to mind when I was trying to think of artists who would work well for this project. So frilly and pastel, perfect for so much lingerie! Were you an Art History major by any chance? I’m an art major and your description of Fragonard’s work sounds straight out of one of my lectures 😛

    • Thank you so much! I was actually an English major, not an Art History major (so you probably shouldn’t get me started on Renaissance poetry because that will take us awhile), but I love art history and am a huge museum buff (and a bit of a know-it-all). I took a couple fabulous Art History classes in college, also.

  2. Thanks again for expanding both my lingerie and art horizons. You have very unique, and credible, ways to present lingerie as a form of art just as classic paintings, contemporary music, and more.

    Thanks for that very inspiring holistic approach!

  3. Just found this article today – How brilliant to compare artists to lingerie designers. I’m a bit of an art history nerd myself, and he’s one of my all-time favorite painters. Thanks for including my corset and lingerie set! xoxo

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