The Love Letter – Jean-Honore Fragonard

1769-1770, Metropolitan Museum of Art

A young woman, unmistakably coy and a touch knowing, holds a love letter drawn from a posy.  She leans forward–in the midst of a secretive act?  A stack of white paper sits on the secretaire before her, disorganized, mussed, which leaves the viewer to wonder: has she just received the letter or written it, the clutch of pink flowers a declaration of her amour?

Golden light drenches the scene, spilling from the window to cascade down the ripples of her dress.  Her shaggy dog looks none too friendly.  His head is cowered, the line from his neck to body straight, his expression wary.  Does he see someone on the periphery?  Is he protecting his mistress from naive disaster?  Or perhaps the intentions of her suitor? 

If one asked the dog, I would imagine he’d say something here positvely stinks of impropriety.

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