Jean-Honoré Fragonard was born on April 5, 1732 at Grasse, France. He showed such talent and inclination for art that he was taken at the age of eighteen to François Boucher, who sent him to Chardin's atelier, as he recognized the youth's rare gifts but disinclined to waste his time with one so inexperienced. Fragonard studied for six months under Chardin, and then returned to Boucher, whose style he acquired so completely that the master trusted him with the execution of replicas of his paintings.
Fragonard won the Prix de Rome in 1752 with a painting of "Jeroboam sacrificing to the Idols". Before proceeding to Rome he studied for three years under Charles-André van Loo.
It was in the romantic Roman gardens, with their fountains, grottos, temples and terraces, that he conceived the dreams which he was subsequently to embody in his art. Added to this influence was the deep impression made by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, whose works he had an opportunity of studying in Venice before he returned to Paris in 1761.
Fragonard hesitated between religious, classic and other subjects; but the demand of the wealthy art patrons of Louis XV's pleasure-loving and licentious court turned him towards those scenes of love and voluptuousness with which he will always be associated.
The French Revolution made an end to the ancien régime, and Fragonard, who was closely allied to its representatives, left Paris in 1793. Fragonard eventually returned to Paris early in the 19th century, where he died on August 22, 1806, neglected and almost forgotten.