The Swing was painted by Jean-Honoré Fragonard in 1767 and is located in the Wallace Collection in London.
This painting is an exemplar of the Rococo movement, which incorporates light and soft brush work and often represents playful and intimate scenes. The word Rococo stems from the Rocaille movement of depicting fancy shell and rock works, and the Baroque (Barocco) movement of depicting drama and theatrics.
The Swing was commissioned by Baron de St. Julien as a painting for his mistress, in which they were the subject matter. His mistress is depicted on the swing, and is being pushed by a bishop. The figure of the bishop was later changed to the figure of the mistress’ husband. The Baron is depicted in the shrubbery, watching his mistress swing above him. The baron had specifically requested that he be positioned in such a way as to see the legs of his mistress, as her dress rises and she kicks off one of her shoes. The Baron is also highlighted in the scene while the mistress’ husband is cast in shadow. The depiction of a cupid statue, pressing his finger to his lips, encapsulates the secretive nature of the scene.
Did you known?
This painting inspired the animators at Disney and influenced the style for two of their feature films. The first of these films was Tangled. The initial concept art for the film Tangled directly replicates Fragonard’s painting. Rapunzel is also seen in the film swinging from her hair with her dress rising as she kicks forward her shoeless leg. The second film inspired by The Swing is Frozen. The painting itself is shown amongst the art works decorating Anna’s home, and as she sings the song ‘For the First Time in Forever’, Anna mimics the pose of the swinging mistress. The Disney animators removed all other figures from these images as to not reference the scandalous nature of the original painting.