The Swing

Jean-Honore Fragonard


Oil on Canvas



As a progressive painter of the aristocracy, I draw from life and my surroundings of the upper class. For instance, take a look at one of my Rococo era masterpiece. Immediately your eye is caught by the young lady in a spot of light reaching through the leaves. But then you start to wander, picking up on the other details of the painting, from the folds of her dress showing off her stockings, to the men and their varying positions in the scene. Of course the gawking statues and barking dog must symbolize something but overall, the foliage is beautiful.


Not as beautiful as the girl though, in her rosey, puffy pink gown, being blown up by the wind. She seems to be showing off to the man in the bushes. That’s when you start to think “huh, why is he in the bushes”, until you see the man in the shadows, being kept in the dark. Yeah that’s right, she’s playing her husband - or the olderman pushing her swing, for a fool. What’s more telling that there’s an affair is that you are not the only viewer, rather the cherub in the upper left corner is telling the dog to hush in the bottom right corner. It’s clear her fidelity is in question as the puppy is figuratively, and literally suggesting.


Now, I’m not one to kiss and tell, and who doesn’t enjoy a good party. However, I will tell you, the upper class gets down.