Fragonard's playful paintings

Visual games in rococo art

By Jennifer Milam

Fragonard's playful paintings

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-7516-2
  • Pages: 208
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £65.00
  • Published Date: February 2007
  • BIC Category: The arts / History of art / art & design styles, ART / History / Baroque & Rococo, Baroque, History of art, Art History
  • Series: Critical Perspectives in Art History


Fragonard's playful paintings is the first critical analysis of the function of play as an artistic concept and visual experience in Rococo art. The art of Jean-Honoré Fragonard embodies the pervasive culture of play in eighteenth-century France. His interactive paintings and drawings invite beholders to engage in a visual game of interpretation through subject, form and theme. This book not only examines Fragonard's art through close analyses of individual works, but also considers the role of the viewer within a variety of contexts related to social behaviour, philosophy, literature and aesthetics. More than any other artist from the period, Fragonard produced images of play that evidence the ludic impulses of ancien-régime thought and expose the underlying significance of eighteenth-century frivolity.

Focused on bringing students and specialists closer to works of art, the book addresses what we see in order to understand better how paintings about play can stimulate playful ideas through dynamic exchanges between artist, image and beholder.


Jennifer Milam is Senior Lecturer in Art History and Theory at the University of Sydney, Australia


List of illustrations
1. The interpretive challenges of a blindman's game
2. Visual vertigo and the swinging scenes
3. Picturing creativity and the imagination in children's play
4. Interpreting play between pendants
5. Decoration and the playful space

Sign up to our newsletter
and receive 20% off all future book orders