February 17, 2011

Positive Portrayals of Sex in Art: Jean-Honoré Fragonard's "The Swing"

This is another Rococo painting and while it may seem un-sexual today, at the time it was quite scandalous. You may notice that the wide-eyed man and the woman both seem to be enjoying the fact that the man is looking up the girl's dress. This painting is also known as The Happy Accident of the Swing for this reason. I'm sure that the rhythm and dizzying movement of the swing is meant to be suggestive as well.

Other aspects of this painting to note: the pink dress, the shoe that is being kicked off with abandon and the statue of cupid.

The figure behind her who is causing her swing to move is meant to be the woman's husband and in my opinion, it's kind of a shame that he's there at all because it seems a little cruel. I'm not sure how positive his view of this situation would be, but Fragonard certainly presents the sexuality of the other two in a positive light.

While I like the two figures in this painting, the rest of it is amazing. This is one of the most vivid and lush depictions of a forest I've ever seen.


  1. Reminiscent of the swing-scene in "The Husband I Bought" except that there the man was more active.

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