Oh! If Only He Were as Faithful to Me

A young woman clad only in a negligee kneels on her unmade bed, hands clasped in despair. As the drawing's title makes clear, she bemoans her lover's infidelity. With tongue-in-cheek humor, Jean-Honoré Fragonard juxtaposed the woman's exaggerated distress with her dog's unwavering loyalty. The woman's pose, taken from representations of the penitent saint Mary Magdalene, the reformed New Testament courtesan traditionally depicted with long, flowing hair, further emphasizes the drawing's light, satirical tone. Fragonard's light, fluent washes also work to convey a sense of abandonment, evident especially in the wildly tossed-about bedclothes. These fluid passages contrast with the arresting precision of the woman's eye, nostril, and mouth, captured in small marks made with the point of the brush. In the later 1760s, Fragonard created a number of drawings devoted to erotic themes. He made this one as a study for an engraving.

Black chalk and brush with brown wash over black chalk (about 1770-1775)

by Jean-Honoré Fragonard (French, 1732-1806)

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