Saint Anne Teaching the Young Virgin to Read
There is no information on Marys birth or her parents in the canonical Gospels. However, the apocryphal Gospel of St. James contains the story of her parents, Joachim and Anne. Legend held that St. Anne taught her to read and sew, an image that become particularly popular in Renaissance and Baroque art. Fragonard was a French painter and printer who was one of the key figures of Rococo, the late Baroque period. Born to a glover, he showed artistic promise early and studied with both Jean Chardin and Francois Boucher. In 1752, despite not being an Academy pupil, Fragonard won the Prix de Rome. In 1765, he secured admission to the Academy. Though his early career had consisted mostly of religious art like the painting for which this drawing was done, the demands of Louis XVs pleasure-loving court turned him toward the more erotic and voluptuous subjects for which he is best known today. Later, he turned briefly to Neoclassicism. The French Revolution put an end to his patrons and the painter went into exile in the French countryside, dying virtually forgotten in 1806.