Fragonard’s Coresus Sacrificing Himself to Save Callirhoe

The High Priest Coresus Sacrificing Himself to Save Callirhoe, Jean-Honore Fragonard
The High Priest Coresus Sacrificing Himself to Save Callirhoe, Jean-Honoré Fragonard

Image on the Web Gallery of Art; original is in the Louvre.

Uncharacteristic of the frivolity of the work for which he is best known, Fragonard has here tackled a history painting. The work was originally meant as a guide for a tapestry that was never created.

Everything about this is theatrical, from the stage-like setting, to the dramatic lighting, to the expressions and posture of the subjects, to the fact that the act is essentially being witnessed by an audience.

I posted yesterday about Fragonard’s preliminary wash drawing for this piece. I also came across a painted study, that is in the collection of the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, with a high-resolution zoomable image on the Google Art Project (images above, bottom three).

Unfortunately, I can’t find a larger image of the finished painting, and the color on both looks off to me — images of the final seem too warm and monochromatic, and the GAP image of the oil sketch seems too yellow.

I’ve taken the liberty of color correcting both as best I can, but this is just my best guess, and I make no claims of accuracy, as I’ve never seen either work in person. You can see my adjusted full image of the final painting here.

 
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