who commisioned the swing (painting)
The Nightmare (1781) by Henry Fuseli.
Detroit Institute of Arts.
For the meaning of other celebrated masterpieces,
please see: Famous Paintings Analyzed (1250-1800).
Falconet, Cupid, 1757.
Fragonard’s The Happy Accidents of the Swing, 1767
Jean-Honoré Fragonard, “The Swing,” 1767 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Jean-Honoré Fragonard, detail of “The Swing,” 1767 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
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.
So here we have a young girl on the swing flying carelessly through the air, pushed from behind by an old man. Her right slipper flies, oh so conveniently, off her foot and suddenly the young man, lounging in the low bush, enjoying the view above him, comes into view. In fact, he is looking right up her frothy pink and cream skirt! So you see, it is a conspiracy of the two lovers whose flirtatious little game goes not only unnoticed by the old man, but where he is in fact an active participant in this concealed peep show. Furthermore, the painting is filled with symbolism. In the 18th century France, a woman’s shoeless foot symbolized nudity, as did the man’s uncovered head and his hat, reaching towards the young girl’s parted legs. “Dolphins driven by cupids drawing the water-chariot of Venus symbolize the impatient surge of love.”*
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. 
The Swing (French: L’Escarpolette), also known as The Happy Accidents of the Swing (French: Les Hasards heureux de l’escarpolette, the original title), is an 18th-century oil painting by Jean-Honoré Fragonard in the Wallace Collection in London. It is considered to be one of the masterpieces of the Rococo era, and is Fragonard’s best known work.