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Blind Man's Bluff (Fragonard, 1750)

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Blind Man's Bluff (French: Le collin maillard) is a painting by the French Rococo painter Jean-Honoré Fragonard, produced around 1750 in oil on canvas. It is held by the Toledo Museum of Art in Toledo, Ohio, United States, which purchased it with funds from the Libbey Endowment, a gift of the glass manufacturer Edward Libbey who founded the museum in 1901.[1]

Blind Man's Bluff
French: Le collin maillard
Jean-Honoré Fragonard - Blind-Man’s Buff - Google Art Project.jpg
ArtistJean-Honoré Fragonard
Yearc. 1750–1752
Mediumoil on canvas
Dimensions116.8 cm × 91.4 cm (46.0 in × 36.0 in)
LocationToledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio, United States

The artist also produced another work of the same title in 1775-1780. Eighteenth-century engravings were produced of both paintings, showing that they may have originally been as much as a foot higher at the top.

Background and contentEdit

The painting is full of deceptions – the girl is looking out from under her blindfold and the game seems to be a pretext leading to seduction; the two figures are in pastoral costume, but may be noble or bourgeois figures playing at being pastoral figures; the background seems to be a wood but could be a stage set. In short, it seems to abolish the boundary between truth and lies, reality and fiction.[2]

The Toledo Museum of Art, where the painting is located, describes the work: "Playfully erotic and sensuously painted, Jean-Honoré Fragonard's scene of youthful flirtation fulfils the eighteenth-century aristocratic French taste for romantic pastoral themes. The figures are beautifully dressed in rustic but improbably clean and fashionable clothes; the woman's shoes even have elegant bows on them."[1]

The painting was intended to accompany The See-Saw (1750),[3] currently held by the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid.[4] Both are painted in the style and spirit of Fragonard's master François Boucher. Boucher's training can be seen in the ornamental flourishes of flowers and trees. But Fragonard's own skill may be seen in the brilliant composition. Blindman's bluff can be seen as a metaphor for courtship, while the rocking of the see-saw would clearly be a metaphor for the act of lovemaking itself.[5]


  1. ^ a b "Blind-Man's Buff". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 4 September 2018.
  2. ^ (in Spanish) Eva-Gesine Baur, «El rococó y el neoclasicismo » in Los maestros de la pintura occidental, Taschen, 2005, page 360, ISBN 3-8228-4744-5
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ "Jean-Honoré Fragonard - The See-saw". 2009. Retrieved 11 June 2013.
  5. ^ "Jean-Honore Fragonard: Blindman's Bluff". Boston College. Retrieved 11 June 2013.