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The Fountain of Love, c. 1785.
ACCORDING TO LEGEND, the magical waters of the Fountain of Love had the power to set hearts aflutter. In Fragonard's allegory of marriage and sexual consummation, two lovers run together through a lush garden toward a fountain. Cupids float on clouds and tumble through the air, and two of them offer the lovers a cup of the magical liquid. In the eighteenth century, the subject was often treated as a contemporary scene, including figures in modern dress. Fragonard revived the subject's classical roots and added an atmosphere of passionate urgency that did not otherwise emerge in French art until the nineteenth century.

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