Reflection In Fragonard's 'Allegory Of Prudence'

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Section I — Of Vanity and Reflection In Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s Allegory of Prudence, the viewer is presented with a young woman who gazes at a mirror. The painting conveys a moment of prolonged reflection and self-evaluation that encourages the viewer to pause, if only briefly, and utilize a moment of reflection in art to turn the viewing inward upon the self. Prudence’s moment of prolonged reflection is created by line, compounded by the color and lighting of the painting, and reinforced by the interactions of shape that emphasizes focus on the mirror. The painting utilizes the interaction of line, color, and scale to display the subject’s moment of reflection, but also to question the fine line between self-reflection and vanity. The usage of curvilinear lines emphasizes the rounded shapes within the painting and the model’s moment of reflection. Fragonard uses curved lines to cause the viewer to lean in and look deeper to find the lines and shapes created by the subject, her dress, and her mirror. These flowing lines are seen in the background which gently fades from a deep blue sky to pale white clouds behind the allegorical Prudence. Rather than distinguishing fields or levels of sight, the lines …show more content…

Although some may argue that the direct contrast of light in the mirror itself displays the vanity of the subject, I argue that the contrast of the light skinned model and heavenly clouds with the gilded mirror imply a godliness of judgement in a human activity — reflection. Created by the interaction of lines, pastel colors, and similar organic ovals, the focus of the painting is on the gaze of the model who carefully looks inward and suggests that the viewer utilize the painting as a mirror of self

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