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The Laundresses

Jean-Honoré Fragonard, French, 1732–1806
Oil on canvas
Made in
France, Europe
Current Location
On View, Gallery 202
28 3/4 x 24 3/16 in. (73 x 61.5 cm)
framed: 32 1/2 x 37 3/16 in. (82.5 x 94.5 cm)
Credit Line
Museum Purchase
Public Domain
Object Number
Two women in bright white and yellow form the focal point of this composition. They toil within a stifling atmosphere of dense steam clouds in a laundry. Jean-Honoré Fragonard, a favorite artist at court, often chose working class people as subjects. Here he captures the demanding physical labor that washing required, most notably in the figure carrying a heavy bundle. The artist makes visible the intense heat of the kettle; contemporary laundry treatises recommended a seventeen-hour process with temperatures near boiling.
Private Collection, Moscow, Russia [1]

Benedict Cathabard (1869?-1917), Lyons, France

by 1921 -
Bachstitz Gallery, The Hague, The Netherlands [2]

Private Collection, New York, NY, USA [3]

- 1937
Arnold Seligmann, Rey & Co., Inc., New York, NY

1937 -
Saint Louis Art Museum, purchased from Arnold Seligmann, Rey & Co., Inc. [4]

The main source for this provenance is an exhibition catalog by Pierre Rosenberg [Rosenberg, Pierre. "Fragonard." New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1988, cat. no. 21]. Exceptions and other supporting documents are noted.

[1] This was the only collection listed on the invoice from Arnold Seligmann, Rey & Co. [dated January 5, 1938; SLAM document files]. It is plausible that Seligmann simply did not list the other collections because two of them were dealers.

[2] The painting is in the undated catalogue of the Bachstitz Gallery which Pierre Rosenberg dates as 1921 [Bachstitz Gallery. "Catalogue of Paintings and Tapestries." Vol. 1 of "Catalogue." Berlin: Albert Frisch [1921], cat. no. 68].

[3] Wildenstein lists the painting as being in a private collection in New York after it was in the Cathabard Collection [Wildenstein, Georges. "The Paintings of Fragonard." New York: Phaidon, 1960, cat. no. 361].

[4] Minutes of the Administrative Board of Control of the City Art Museum, November 4, 1937.
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