The Jean-Honoré Fragonard Museum

The Hélène et Jean-Francois Costa Collection

History

In inaugurating the Jean-Honoré Fragonard Museum in the heart of the old town of Grasse in 2011, Fragonard paid a double tribute. A tribute to the famous painter of course, originally from Grasse and son of a perfume maker, and a tribute to Jean-François Costa, a great lover of 18th century French art and a patient collector.

The Fragonard Museum brings the public a comprehensive view of the entire career of the famous painter Jean-Honoré Fragonard: his gallant works, religious paintings, landscapes, and fantasy portraits, up to the painting executed at the end of the artist’s career: Le sacrifice de la Rose.

Spanning three floors, the museum is divided into permanent and temporary exhibition rooms. Perpetuating their father’s work and thus contributing to the cultural dynamism of the town of Grasse, Agnès and Françoise Costa host temporary exhibitions every year in the ground floor and garden level rooms.

The collections

On the first floor, some twenty major works by Jean-Honoré Fragonard are displayed in a suite of large rooms, in addition to some forty paintings by two other Grasse artists: Marguerite Gérard, Fragonard’s sister-in-law and disciple, and Jean-Baptiste Mallet. This complex, which forms the museum’s permanent exhibition area, goes beyond the purely regional scope because of its artistic and historical dimension.

JEAN HONORÉ FRAGONARD (1732-1806)

Jean-Honoré Fragonard is one of the 18th century’s most enigmatic figures. When the first critics and connoisseurs who participated in his rediscovery in the 19th century reconstructed his career, they were tempted to confuse his own life with the life of one of his characters. In fact, the life of this Grasse glove maker’s son, born there in 1732 but raised in Paris, reads more like a picaresque novel than a story of a young lover of the Comédie Italienne. Fragonard possessed one of the most solid pictorial cultures of the time, as shown here in Le Troupeau, a beautiful tribute to 17th century Nordic painting, or L’Oiseau chéri, one of his most Rembrantesque compositions.

MARGUERITE GÉRARD (1761-1837)

The Jean-Honoré Fragonard Museum is home to one of the largest collections of Marguerite Gérard’s paintings ever put together and is the most significant of her work.
Marguerite Gérard’s destiny is closely linked to Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s life story. Following in the wake of the master, Fragonard, she composed various genre scenes and specialized in small portraits. By the late 18th century, she had attained artistic independence and soon conquered the Parisian public, with her works finding favour among all the major collectors.

JEAN-BAPTISTE MALLET (1759-1835)

Born in Grasse in 1759, trained in Toulon and then in Paris, Jean-Baptiste Mallet remains one of the most mysterious painters of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. His rock-solid pictorial culture meant that he could move from his early gallant gouaches to much more controversial works inspired by revolutionary political and social events. He also made a name for himself among connoisseurs thanks to his paintings in the anacreontic style in which he brilliantly masters the antique repertoire and a certain “graceful mythology”, as shown here in L’Innocence et la Fidélité ramenant l’Amour.

Useful information

  • How to get there

    Musée Fragonard – Grasse town centre
    The Hélène et Jean-Francois Costa Collection.
    Hôtel de Villeneuve
    14, rue Jean Ossola
    06130 Grasse
    Indigo CRESP car park a short walk from the museum, whose entrance is located at 17 boulevard Fragonard.

  • Opening times

    No booking required.
    Free admission and tours
    Open to the public every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
    Closed on Sundays in November, January and early February.