Art History

Art Reflections

The Hidden Story Inside The Swing

The hidden story inside The Swing is a particularly interesting one. The Swing was painted by Jean-Honore Fragonard around 1765. It is also commonly known as The Happy Accidents of the Swing. Commissioned by Charles Collé, the painting depicts the man’s mistress as the main focal point. She is swinging happily from a tree. Fragonard was known for his frivolous depictions. They were a stark contrast to the more popular themes of other artists during that time.

Fragonard was one of the most prolific artists of the Rococo period. Very few of his paintings were dated, making it difficult to form a timeline of his work. His unique style of decadence and exuberance set him apart from many of his peers. In this scene, there are details such as her gown and expressions on the characters’ faces that give a flair of drama. Many of his works had a hidden, intimacy and eroticism.  Art scholars have often suspected these pieces held symbolism.

A Closer Look

At first glance, the painting appears to be two gentlemen keeping a lady company while she swings. However, many scholars have speculated that it represents a commentary on infidelity and promiscuity. The way one of the men is positioned beneath her, as she swings above him has an erotic element to it, while another man watches the two of them from behind the tree. This could be interpreted as the husband and the lover. When you know that the subject of the painting was a man’s mistress this becomes more credible. There are other clues to the scene’s hidden meaning as well. Such as the statue’s pose, indicating the keeping of a secret.

The sordid gossip surrounding the painting and the story it tells, only added to its popularity. Over the years the beautiful and playful piece has become one of the favorite pieces from the period. Add a mysterious and whimsical piece to your own collection and encourage your own friends and family to debate what the elaborately detailed scene could be depicting. If you enjoy the hidden story inside The Swing, you can add this piece to your collection. Browse the other luxurious piece by this wonderful artist in the Jean-Honore Fragonard gallery. Give the gift of more than just art, but a great story as well.

Jean-Honore Fragonard - The Swing, c.1765 - The Hidden Story Inside the Swing

About the Author

Amanda graduated from the University of Kansas, where she studied English literature and got a masters degree in library sciences. She enjoys reading, cooking and playing with her nephews. Her best friend is her little dog Brady.