Title The Palette Game (The paddle game) and La Bascule (The Rocker), both ca. 1760-1765, they present landscapes overflowing with greenery, with small figures playing under large neoclassical structures.
Four years ago, the paintings reappeared when a family discovered them during the inventory of a castle in Normandy. The last known record of the two works before this was a 1786 document of their sale to Pierre Bergeret de Grandcourt, a French aristocrat and a friend of Fragonard. The family who found the paintings applied for an export license to sell the works abroad, but the French state banned the paintings from leaving the country, declaring them national treasures.
The French Culture Ministry did not say how much it had paid for the works when it announced the acquisition on Thursday, although Le Figaro reported that in 2017, France paid an advance of 6 million euros ($ 7 million) to keep the works within the country’s borders. The Louvre helped finance the acquisition.
In a press release, Roselyne Bachelot, the French Minister of Culture, declared herself “delighted with the success of an emblematic operation both for the enrichment of public collections and for the cultural action of the State in the territories” .
It is typically an event when a Fragonard painting reappears. Last month, a rediscovered portrait of a philosopher by the Rococo artist was put up for sale at the Champagne auction house Enchères in Épernay, France. It sold for $ 9.2 million, becoming the third most expensive Fragonard painting ever to be auctioned.