where what the painting the swing painted

Where what the painting the swing painted
• The Nightmare (1781) by Henry Fuseli.
Detroit Institute of Arts.
Name: The Swing (L’Escarpolette) (1767)
Artist: Jean-Honore Fragonard (1732-1806)
Medium: Oil painting on canvas
Genre: Genre painting
Movement: Rococo art
Location: Wallace Collection, London

Where what the painting the swing painted
The painting depicts an elegant young woman on a swing. A smiling young man, hiding in the bushes on the left, watches her from a vantage point that allows him to see up into her billowing dress, where his arm is pointed with hat in hand. A smiling older man, who is nearly hidden in the shadows on the right, propels the swing with a pair of ropes. The older man appears to be unaware of the young man. As the young lady swings high, she throws her left leg up, allowing her dainty shoe to fly through the air. The lady is wearing a bergère hat (shepherdess hat). Two statues are present, one of a putto, who watches from above the young man on the left with its finger in front of its lips in a sign of silence, the other of pair of putti, who watch from beside the older man, on the right. There is a small dog shown barking in the lower right hand corner, in front of the older man. According to the memoirs of the dramatist Charles Collé, [2] a courtier (homme de la cour) [3] asked first Gabriel François Doyen to make this painting of him and his mistress. Not comfortable with this frivolous work, Doyen refused and passed on the commission to Fragonard. [2] The man had requested a portrait of his mistress seated on a swing being pushed by a bishop, but Fragonard painted a layman.
This style of “frivolous” painting soon became the target of the philosophers of the Enlightenment, who demanded a more serious art which would show the nobility of man. [4]

Where what the painting the swing painted
Jean- Honoré Fragonard’s The Swing was essentially a commission passed to him by another painter Gabriel-François Doyen. The painting’s storyline and composition was proposed to Doyen by a gentleman of the court, who wanted a painting of him and his mistress. The exact identity of the patron is unknown, though he was at one time thought to have been the Baron de Saint-Julien, the Receiver General of the French Clergy, which would have explained the request to include a bishop pushing the swing. Gabriel Doyen refused the commission and instead passed it on to Fragonard who removed any references to specific people but kept the concept of the original proposal.
And now look at Cupid’s pose. The god of desire, erotic love, attraction and affection watches on with an all-knowing smile – he knows what’s really going on, and he implores your silence. And so, this otherwise innocent little childhood game is suddenly filled with playful innuendo and the audience becomes part of the clandestine affair.

Where what the painting the swing painted
Jean-Honoré Fragonard, The Swing, oil on canvas, 1767 (Wallace Collection, London)
Figure 2. Detail of The Swing

Where what the painting the swing painted
Fragonard’s iconic painting is one of the most emblematic images of 18th-century French art. A young woman wearing a lovely pink silk frock is tantalisingly positioned mid-air on a swing between her elderly husband on the right and her young lover on the left. The force of the swing caused one of her slippers to fly off, resulting in a privileged view for her lover whose delight is suggested by the symbolic offer of his hat.
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References:

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Swing_(painting)
http://galleryintell.com/artex/the-swing-by-jean-honore-fragonard/
http://courses.lumenlearning.com/zeliart102/chapter/fragonards-the-swing/
http://www.wallacecollection.org/collection/les-hazards-heureux-de-lescarpolette-swing/
http://www.visual-arts-cork.com/famous-paintings/swing-fragonard.htm

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