The Swing

8 December 2009

Does any painting in the world epitomise eighteenth century France more than this one?

No, I didn’t think so.

The Swing was painted by Jean-Honoré Fragonard in 1767 and depicts the adolescent mistress of an unknown aristocrat, gamboling charmingly on her swing while her lover languishes on the ground beneath her and admires her shapely legs. I especially love the way that her pink shoe is flying off into the air.

In the hands of anyone other than Fragonard, this could have been an awkward and rather seedy composition but he transforms it into a charming idyll, a moment of charm and exquisite indolence.

This work can be viewed in the Wallace Collection in London.

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