the swing painting flourishing year
The Bolt is intended as an illustration of profane love, pendant to The Adoration of the Shepherds, painted two years earlier, which illustrates sacred love. The circumstances of the encounter in The Bolt are ambiguous; the questions of the man’s motivation and whether the woman is acquiescing by choice or force are left unclear. The objects surrounding the pair, however, indicate the aftermath of the moment captured in the painting. The bed is in a state of disorder and the room is scattered with erotic symbols, including an upturned chair, flowers and fruit and the bolt itself, all of which would have been easily readable to an 18 th -century audience. The Bolt is striking for its chiaroscuro and its reduced palette, indicating a shift away from the sumptuous Rococo forms and colors for which he is predominantly known and showcasing his mastery of composition and narrative staging. Fragonard’s brushstrokes are less pronounced in this image; the increased realism and the comparatively spare, shadowy backdrop can be seen as both an attempt to transition toward Neoclassicism and an anticipation of 19 th -century Romanticism.
The subject, a girl on a swing pushed by a husband while a lover looked from the bushes and a shoe flew from the foot, was dictated to the painter by the Baron de Saint-Julien; Fragonard transforms the scene from a licentious allegory into a commentary on the transience of pleasure through the specifics of his composition. The swing, in the 18 th century, was generally read as a sexual metaphor, due to the rhythm of movement and the positioning of the body, with extended legs, at the moment when the swing’s arc reached its climax; the loss of a shoe often symbolized the loss of innocence. The Swing is composed to direct the eye in such a way that the narrative is revealed gradually, following the motion of the swing from husband to lover, and framed as if a scene in a play, encouraging viewers to take pleasure in their intrusion into a private moment, approaching it as if it is performed for them.
In the 18 th century, bathing scenes were often a pretext to show the nude in a variety of positions and from a range of angles, showcasing the painter’s skill whilst also providing the viewer with a visual pleasure that verged toward the titillating. The painting showcases Fragonard’s lightness in both theme and palette; the colors, in their gentleness, are suited toward their subject, imbuing the women with an innocence that heightens their appeal. The brushstrokes are loose and palpable, providing a sensuousness, physicality, and fluidity that contributes to the painting’s liveliness. Fragonard stopped exhibiting his paintings in 1767, preferring to focus on work for private clients, and this is among the last to be displayed in an academic setting.
Jean-HonorГ© Fragonard was born into a family of artisans and merchants in Grasse; his father was a glove maker. The family moved to Paris in 1738, when Fragonard was six, but little else is known about the artist’s upbringing. He began to study art as a teenager after a failed apprenticeship to a notary.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word ‘flourish.’ Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Definition of flourish (Entry 2 of 2)
Jean Honoré Fragonard
Self-Portrait, Three-Quarters to the Left, c. 1778–1780
13 x 10.2 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris, RF 41191
© RMN-Grand Palais / Art Resource, NY, Photo: Gerard Blot
More than any of his contemporaries, Fragonard cultivated this rapid manner of painting which grasps the general impression of things and flings it on to the canvas like an instantaneous image.
Sep 13, 2015 – Jan 3, 2016
Lead Sponsorship for Gates of the Lord: The Tradition of Krishna Paintings has been provided by Nita and Mukesh Ambani and the Reliance Foundation.
Major funding has been generously contributed by Anita and Prabhakant Sinha.