Fragonard’s painting The Swing Essay

Fragonard’s painting The Swing Essay.

 Fragonard's painting The Swing Essay

Category: History

What’s going on in Fragonard’s painting The Swing?

Describe the subject matter and mood.

How does this image depart from the type of subject matter and stylistic characteristics we have seen in earlier artistic movements such as the Renaissance and Baroque?


  • To further explore the content we covered in this module
  • To identify and analyze an artwork’s stylistic and/or cultural characteristics to evaluate how it exemplifies its period style and culture
  • To practice written analysis, including using art historical vocabulary in your writing

Requirements: 400


(A painting by Fragonard)


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Subject Matter and Mood

The subject is a girl in a forest surrounded by status, plants and people on a swing being swayed by a husband (a joyous, elderly man) with no realization of the presence of another man by the bushes looking up her skirt. The girl had noticed the man by the bush, staring at him as she sways. she outstretches her foot from which her slipper flies off in a happy and relaxed scene.

Fragonard’s had the intention of featuring his mistress in the painting with him looking down her skirt

In an artist’s painting, the mood is always the feelings expresses which might be dark, disturbing among Fragonard’s painting “the swing” the mood can be expressed as sexual due to the rhythm of the movements, the body positioning, the outstretched foot as the swing reaches climax, and also the loss of shoes which signifies the loss of innocence or dignity.

The swing generally portrays fun, fantasy, and idolization of the girl by the lover and love from the husband.

The painting is an artistic work in such a way to direct the eye in following the gradual motion from the husband to the lover (admirer).

How the image departs from the type of subject matter and stylistic characteristics seen in other artistic movements

The swing is developed in Europe in the 18th century which favored the use of asymmetry, colors of pastel, and designs of ornate with playful subjects.

 Symbolism is elevated by Fragonard’s painting in that it is difficult to comprehend, even by colleagues, as his image presented multiple intellectual layers, the use of regular activities small details, and settings hastened tension and encouraged the viewer to regard relationships putting time into consideration.

The implementation of the setting is unique as it hastened narrative drama compared to other paintings, the composure in his framework is stage marked with the presence of light to redirect the observer as the sequence becomes clearer. The status and trees, cloudy site in addition to the swaying wind-blown branches indicate pressure build-up while the background represents clarification,

The use of various tones, colors, and playful changes in light and shade in the painting, unlike other artistic movements, represents his art-making skills by for instance the application of paint in the canvas, which serve as evidence of stretched fluid-like stroking brush resulting in a folded clothing and the use of abruption dashes resulting in flowers and leaves.

Fragonard’s use of lighting to tell a story is different from other artistic movements in that his lighting infuses a soft scene with a soft seductive glow.

Due to the uniqueness of Fragonard’s painting, it has come to a conclusion that it was way different from the other artistic movements like the Baroque, renaissance among others.

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