The celebrated écorchés of honoré Fragonard, part 2: The details of the technique used by Fragonard

Authors

  • Christophe Degueurce,

    Corresponding author
    1. Curator of the Fragonard Museum, Ecole nationale vétérinaire d'Alfort, Maisons-Alfort, France
    • Musée, Ecole Nationale Vétérinaire d'Alfort, 7 Avenue du Général de Gaulle, 94704 Maisons-Alfort cedex, France
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  • Sung vo Duy,

    1. Groupe de Chimie Analytique de Paris Sud EA 3343, LETIAM (Laboratoire des Techniques et Instruments d'Analyse Moléculaire), Institut Universitaire de Technologie d'Orsay, Plateau du Moulon, Orsay, France
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  • Jean Bleton,

    1. Groupe de Chimie Analytique de Paris Sud EA 3343, LETIAM (Laboratoire des Techniques et Instruments d'Analyse Moléculaire), Institut Universitaire de Technologie d'Orsay, Plateau du Moulon, Orsay, France
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  • Paulette Hugon,

    1. Laboratoire de Recherche des Monuments Historiques, Champs-sur-Marne, France
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  • Laure Cadot,

    1. Restauratrice, Paris, France
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  • Alain Tchapla,

    1. Groupe de Chimie Analytique de Paris Sud EA 3343, LETIAM (Laboratoire des Techniques et Instruments d'Analyse Moléculaire), Institut Universitaire de Technologie d'Orsay, Plateau du Moulon, Orsay, France
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  • translated by Philip Adds

    1. Division of Basic Medical Sciences (Anatomy), St George's, University of London, London, United Kingdom
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Abstract

It is remarkable that the famous écorchés of Honoré Fragonard have survived the centuries to reach us today. Studies carried out by several teams have established details of the technique used by Fragonard that help to explain their longevity. The injection of the vessels was achieved by means of a mixture of mutton tallow and pine resin diluted in essence of turpentine and essential oils. This gave Fragonard a very high success rate. Above all, he did not add pigments to his mixture while injecting the veins, and this facilitated the procedure. The vessels were painted after preservation to give them the vivid colors that we can still see today. Another detail that explains their exceptional conservation is that the varnish used by Fragonard was composed of Venice turpentine, made from larch resin and known to repel insects. Clin. Anat. 23:258–264, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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