menacing cupid

La Surprise. Jean-Honoré Fragonard (French, 1732-1806). Oil on panel.

In La Surprise, the startled young lady puts down her book and beckons warily toward an unseen presence - supposedly a lover - who has suddenly arrived. A half-seen garden sculpture seems to be a version of The Menacing Cupid, which Fragonard memorably included in The Swing (1767). In both paintings, Falconet’s Cupid puts a finger to his lips to urge our silent complicity.