Swings by Jean-Honore Fragonard

Swings by Jean Honore Fragonard

Jean Honoré Fragonard’s painting “The Swing, or Happy Accidents of the Swing” is generally considered an exemplary example of gallant painting. In fact, there are all the signs of a gallant genre: the lady and gentlemen in the park, the juicy plot, the cupids, etc. However, as this picture of Fragonard occupies a key place not only in the history of gallant culture of the XVIII century, but also in the history of visuality and is directly connected with the educational reform of the vision.

The program “Swing”, compiled by the customer, Baron St. Julien, is known from the words

of Gabriel Francois Doyen, a historical and religious painter, originally addressed by Saint-Julien. Douayan’s story in the transfer of Colle is: “Do you believe,” Doyen said to me, “a few days after the appearance of my painting” Saint Genevieve “in the Salon, one noble person sent for me to order me a picture… He was in his” apartment “with his beloved… He started with courtesies and praise, and finished, saying that he wants to order me a picture…” I would like you to paint Madame on the swing, which the bishop shakes. And you put me in such a way that I can see the feet of this lovely creature; and the more you want to bring gaiety to this work, the better it will be ” . I confess, – said Doyen, – that this proposal, which I should not have expected in any way, in view of the nature of the motive underlying it, first embarrassed me and made me literally numb. I, however, recovered quickly enough to answer almost immediately: “Ah, monsieur, we must add to Madame’s shoes, slippers flying up into the air and picked up by Cupids.”

In the end, Doyen refused the order, recommending Fragonard instead. In the picture of Fragonard the bishop turned into a certain young man, but the customer himself is really depicted in the position he wanted. The shoe does fly into the air, but the cupid does not pick it up. But there are still cupids – in the form of park sculptures: cupids with a pitcher and “Thundering Cupid” Falcone. In the picture most of the canvas is occupied by the image of a dense greenery of the garden – in the foreground on the right is an old knobby trunk, a ruffling plexus of branches at the top edge, a sunlight in the depth, small flowers and leaves in the foreground. Against this background, a lush and complex silhouette of the pink dress of a young lady stands out; it swells and splits from the movement of the swing. This coral spot shines with the overflow of colorful nuances.

Transitions of tone from light to dense pink end with a red strip of a pillow on a swing. The very round-faced babe is written, of course, without a claim to the depth of the characteristic; in her eyes and smile, only the expression of fright and mischief flashes. Bishop Fragonard replaced with a more modest figure, and the owner of “charming creation” is depicted as a very young gentleman. The pink shoe flies into the air, but the cupids have turned into marble statues, as if contemplating what is happening.

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