Jean-Honore Fragonard:
Blindman's Bluff


Click on the picture to see an enlarged version.

    • Oil on Canvas: 46 x 36 inches,
    • 1755-56
    • The Toledo Museum of Art

 This painting was designed to accompany The See-Saw, and both are painted in the style and spirit of his master, François Boucher. The ornamental flourishes of flowers and trees Fragonard learned from his teacher, but the brilliant composition, juxtaposing two games enjoyed by a pair of young compansions, are Fragonard's own handiwork. The amorous amusements would clearly have been understood as symbols of the pursuit of love. Blindman's bluff being courtship, and the rhythmic rocking of the seesaw would clearly be a metaphor for the act of lovemaking itself.

But Fragonard has stripped away most of the frankly sexual aspects. In this scene the mischievous girl can clearly see beneath the blind-fold and thus is in no danger of stumbling down the stairs. In other words she is not going to get herself seduced blind. Rather it is a carefully cnsidered courtship. If she can actually see where her potential mate is, she must be extending the game for sheer enjoyment of the game itself, rather than for immediate sexual satisfaction.

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