A Study of Jean-Honore Fragonard

Jean-Honore Fragonard was a fashionable French artist who produced over 550 paintings within his 74 year life span. A remarkable aspect concerning Fragonard's artistic practices was that he rarely dated his work. Of the hundreds of paintings which he created there has been only five discovered which bears a date on them.

His usual manner of painting confers an atmosphere of intimacy, generally as if we are viewing scenes from someone's life which we really have not right to see which has led to some art circles as introducing him as a purveyor of eroticism. It has been mentioned that most of Fragonard's background scenes are reminiscent of the romantic gardens that he so enjoyed during his frequent visits to Rome. Upon his canvas we can view many gardens complete with fountains, terraces and temples. During the mid 1700s he married and was gifted with a daughter who was groomed as his model for many of his future paintings.

In this review we will address the value associated with Fragonard's "The Swing" which fully supports the premise that his paintings usually are composed of frivolity scenes. This is perhaps Jean-Honore's most recognized work of art. Since he failed to date the majority of his work it is difficult to determine what personal value he has instilled within his own art category. This particular work is viewed as a bit on the erotic side but clearly stops short of being vulgar.

Without a firm basis regarding dates we can only offer educated speculation in his art work intentions. When we first view this magnificent mid 1700 painting we are greeted by the image of a young lady as she is swung gracefully back and forth, propelled by a faint man in the background. Another of her gentlemen friends appears to be lying joyfully on the ground predisposed at watching the joyous girl performing before him. In her pink, flowing dress she has the reclined man's total attention. You can readily tell that the scene is taking place in a well grown garden as there are brick structures off on the side. The scene is further developed as the foliage is overcast with a smoky blue color complimented by foaming clouds in the background. The various branches and tree leaves tend to sparkle as if showered with glittering lights. If you pay close attention to the painting you will note that one of the young girl's shoes has flow off and is airborne.

As we analysis the image in detail we see a rococo style with its brilliant colors and faultless detail in all aspects of the painting. We are provided the rare liberty of being present with the aristocratic class at the time the art work was conceived. We are additionally afforded the opportunity of viewing nature with all its sensuous and intimate desire placed carefully upon the canvas. The artist skillfully uses soft but luminous colors to define his topic along with a series of complex surface renditions. As with many of Fragonard works which he turned out in the late 1700s he made free association of fanciful costumes and provided the viewer with a slight bit of erotic suggestions.

I feel the painting conveys not just a carefree lifestyle but also a hidden meaning. The mood of the art work demands that we enjoy ourselves as the players on canvas are graciously doing. The image brings out emotions of joy and playfulness as one watches and waits for the swing to go forward and then to slowly return only to start the cycle over once again.

The more exotic aspect centers upon the young man who is hidden carefully in the bushes silently watching as the lovely lady swings back and forth. Although she is being pushed by her husband who also is hiding in the shadows, he appears to be unaware that the other gentleman is watching from below or he and his wife are sexually teasing the young man. Each time the lady goes high upon her swing she flirtingly reveals herself to the gentlemen on the ground. She smilingly allows the reclined man to get a small, clandestine peek up her pink dress. The artist has successfully made his point towards eroticism of his work and pushed our senses to the max as we view his work. I think I can easily understand why this particular painting has become so popular.

The painting in question can be located by searching the internet either on the artists name or by the name of the painting. I recommend you find this wonderful work of art and examine it in greater detail.

Copyright @2011 Joseph Parish

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