Artworks
The Swing
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ebrowne's picture

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The Swing is a lot like The Creation of Adam in terms of linear structure and pink dresses, but a lot different in that one is about God breathing life into mankind and the second is basically a bad porno setup.

But like, what’s the difference, am I right? We don’t know for sure who commissioned this work. There is some speculation that it was Baron de Saint-Julien, the Receiver General of the French Clergy, which would make sense because of the bishop in the bottom right corner. It does seems a little kinky for a clergyman, but who are we to judge? What we do know is that the mystery patron wanted a portrait in which he is depicting looking at his mistress’ legs, making the original title, Lucky Happenings on the Swing, just dishonest.

So this oh-so-subtle painting is the story of a boy and girl who are playing dumb about their infidelity. (Bonus fact: swings were a metaphor for infidelity in the 18th century.) They are acting like they didn’t set up a time and place for her to “accidentally” reveal her downstairs to him even though he is perfectly placed directly below her in the bushes (another allusion to their affair maybe?) with a not not phallic arm pointing directly between her legs. It’s likely that the bishop knows nothing of the man hiding in the bushes because, as creepy and weird as the Catholic church can be, pimping is not their M.O.. No, this situation is all very hush hush, as displayed by the statue of Cupid about to be hit by the lady’s slipper with his finger to his lips seemingly saying “Shhhh.”

This painting was going to depict the patron and mistress themselves, but as it was a little too sexy for that, they were depersonalized and now it’s an icon for infidelity! We are assuming that it was commissioned for the mistress’ boudoir.

Sources

Sources

  1. Harris, Beth, and Steven Zucker. "Fragonard, The Swing." Khan Academy. Web. 8 Sept. 2017.
  2. "Les Hazards Heureux De L'escarpolette (The Swing)." Wallacelive.wallacecollection.org. Web. 8 Sept. 2017.
  3. "Fragonard's The Swing." Employees.oneonta.edu. Web. 8 Sept. 2017.