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Pantalooned Twerps and Nincompoops?

5 July, 2012

Rococo art is an acquired taste. But for people like me, who can’t resist a little full-bore Marie Antoinette-inspired hedonism now and then, check out Don Paterson’s description of the Fragonard Room at New York’s Frick Collection in this month’s Intelligent Life: (Is there a better magazine, BTW?)

“Against the backdrop of an impossibly rococo arcadia, an assortment of beribboned, bewigged, pomaded and pantalooned twerps and nincompoops spoon and sport. Below a statue of Cupid, a woman swoons in dégagé reverie, her eyes rolled up to the whites. Banksy would have added a hypodermic needle dangling from her arm. You feel deeply protective of these figures. They depict a heaven, of sorts, though not one to which we should aspire.”

It puts me in mind of Diderot’s famous criticism of Fragonard’s Swarm of Putti, c.1767 (now at the Louvre): “an insipid giant omelette of babies… painted like cotton wool…”

But what a tasty omelette it is!

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