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In the 18th century the game of blind man’s buff (or bluff) became the symbolic arena for courtship, chance, and the amorous amusements of lovers (directly relating to the concept “love is blind”). Playfully erotic and sensuously painted, Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s scene appropriately takes place within a garden; he develops the theme of the fleeting nature of youthful love by decorating his composition with spring flowers. In a nod to 18th-century French aristocratic taste for romantic pastoral themes, the figures are beautifully dressed in rustic by improbably fashionable and expensive clothes; the woman’s shoes even have elegant bows on them.

As the lover tickles his beloved on the cheek with a piece of straw, a Cupid-like infant brushes her hand with the end of a stick. These teasing gestures are meant to lead or distract the woman to or from the object of her desire. Reaching out to locate her lover, the woman steals a glance from underneath her blindfold and catches our gaze, letting us in on the joke: that she is not as blind or as helpless in this game as her lover suspects.

Details

  • Title: Blind-Mans Buff
  • Creator: Jean-Honore Fragonard
  • Date Created: 1750/1752
  • Physical Location: Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio
  • Physical Dimensions: 46 in. x 36 in. (116.8 x 91.4 cm)
  • Medium: oil on canvas
  • Depicted Topic: Gigapixel Collection

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