The Swing also known as The Happy Accidents of the Swing is an 18th century oil painting by Jean Honore Fragonard. Painted in 1767, it is considered as one of the masterpieces of the rococo era.
In the foreground the playboy Baron himself is depicted, reclining in the lush shrubbery, one arm outstretched towards the maiden's skirts, his other arm holding his balance. He gave very specific instructions to Fragonard, stating "Place me in a position where I can observe the legs of that charming girl."
His mistress flies through the air on a sylvan swing, the lovely young lady giving herself away to frivolous abandon, her shoe flying off in the heat of the moment.
In the background of the composition one can see what was originally going to be the Bishop requested by the perverse Baron, but which was changed to the mistress's husband by Fragonard. The husband plays a lesser role, being immersed in shadow while the Baron is illuminated under the maiden's dress.
The inanimate objects add to the story as well. Two cherubs below the swing appear concerned by the sordid actions of the humans above them, one looking up at the women in trepidation and the other looking away from the action with a scowl. On the left side of the image is a stone statue of Cupid who raises a finger to his lips to point out the secretive nature of the impending affair.
Overall Fragonard's The Swing, rich with symbolism, not only manages to capture 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.
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