Subota, 13 Novembar 2021 12:16

The symbolism behind Jean-Honoré Fragonard's The Swing Istaknut

Jean-Honoré Fragonard's best-known painting The Swing, originally known as The Happy Accidents of the Swing, is encapsulating humor and joie de vivre of the Rococo. The identity of the patron who commissioned this painting has eluded art historians. French dramatist Charles Collé noted in October 1767 that artist Gabriel-François Doyen had met an unnamed 'gentleman of the Court' "in his pleasure house with his mistress". He was commissioned to paint his young mistress on a swing, pushed by a bishop with himself admiring her legs from below. Doyen, uneasy about taking on such an indecorous subject, suggested Fragonard who readily agreed. As it was, Fragonard replaced the bishop with the more traditional figure of a cuckolded husband, but otherwise fulfilled the commission almost to the letter.

In the painting The Swing is captured a moment of complete spontaneity and joie de vivre, but also alludes to the illicit affair that may have already been going on, or is about to begin. It depicts a young woman on a swing pushed by an elderly man presumably her husband while a lover looked from the bushes and a pink shoe flew from the foot in the direction of a winged marble statue that resembles Cupid, the Roman god of love and desire. In the 18th century in France, the swing was a conventional symbol for infidelity and generally was read as a sexual metaphor, due to the rhythm of movement and the positioning of the body, with extended legs, at the moment when the swing's arc reached its climax. A woman's shoeless foot symbolized nudity and the loss of innocence.

The garden, a space outside the artificial rules of society, was associated with freedom and the natural. In the foreground (right), a tiny white lapdog - a common symbol of faithfulness - at the husband's feet seems to sound the alarm by barking on the woman's bawdy behavior, but he takes no notice. On the left, the statue of Cupid raises a finger to his lips to prevent the two Venus-putti beneath the swing from giving the game away.

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