The Swing; Jean-Honore Fragonard
Inkjet on watercolour paper
90 x 67.5 centimetres
Jean-Honore Fragonard’s 1732 Rococo painting, The Swing, has a delicately, frivolous sensuality which would have been impossible to retain in this reimagining. Our time doesn’t abide such coyness, but I didn’t want to be too explicit about a theme that amounts to a man enjoying what may be revealed either by accident or design. The loveliness of the female figure, dynamically whizzing through the air on her swing, her dislodged shoe airborne, needed to be carefully modelled although the pose was unfortunately a little compromised by the requirement that she be angled towards the viewer so that we can see what her boyfriend in the foreground might be seeing. A female friend, discussing the sexual nuances of this image, felt that the woman on the swing, despite her impassive expression looks very much in control and will decide who she will sleep with, which is a reading I’m happy to go with.
This reading is suggested by the compositional arrangement of the figures which employs a classic pyramid with the woman in the apex position, it not only places the focus on her, it also implies her dominance. The intention originally was to set The Swing in a playground, suggesting that when the children are away the adults come out to play. In theory this was a reasonable approach but I found it hard to visualise and therefore decided to stay with a setting similar to the Fragonard painting, but emphasising the darkness and mysteriousness of the forest, a possible metaphor for hidden sexual longing.Jean-Honore Fragonard’s The Swing: The Wallace Collection