exhibition, painting, Paris

Victor and Honoré

1 Jean-Hubert Fragonard, L'Heureux

Jean-Hubert Fragonard, L’Heureux Moment, ou La Résistance Inutile [The Happy Moment, or Resistance is futile], circa 1770-1775, bistre wash on pierre noire-prepared paper, watercolor highlights, 22.9×34.8cm, Philadelphia Museum of Art

Two beautiful first names, “victory” and “honor”, for two very different exhibitions. Fragonard, named in fact Jean-Honoré (Honoré Fragonard was the painter’s cousin, more interested in Thanatos than Eros…), died in 1806, and by then Bonaparte had become Napoleon entirely. Victor Hugo was born in 1802 –a date echoed in his famous poem “Ce siècle avait deux ans…”– and he would call the Bonaparte of his times, Napoleon III, “Napoléon le Petit”. Therefore, to compare Jean-Honoré and Victor may be arbitrary, yet I can’t help but see them as two faces of the same coin, as a photographic positive with its negative (but who is what?), as the two-faced Roman god Janus. Continue reading