Friday, 2 September 2016


It’s not unusual to read erotic stories about Voyeurs and Exhibitionists. But we’re not really reading anything new. Painters have been telling us erotic stories for centuries. A particularly delicious picture is THE SWING, by Jean-Honore Fragonard.

The painting was commissioned by Baron Saint-Julien and features the Baron’s mistress being pushed on a swing by a bishop. Fragonard dates the picture as 1766 and the story we’re being told and the style of the work is a great example of the frivolity of the Rococo style.

It is immediately obvious what is going on here. The story is easy to read. A girl, on a swing, playfully abandons modesty, parting her thighs, exposing her genitalia to a man, watching her antics from the bushes.

“The painting is charged with the amorous ebullience and joy of an impetuous surrender to love. In a shimmer of leaves and rose petals, lit up by a sparkling beam of sunshine, the girl, in a frothy dress of cream and juicy pink, rides the swing with happy, thoughtless abandon. Her legs parted, her skirts open; the youth in the rose-bush, hat off, arm erect, lunges towards her. Suddenly, as she reaches the peak of her ride, her shoe flies off.”

Fragonard captures a moment of wonderful naughtiness. An erotic fantasy, brought alive by the painting.

THE SWING currently resides in The Wallace Collection in London. Just a short walk from Baker Street and Marylebone Village.

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  1. I love this painting, but it's a tease. The viewer can't see as much as the young man on the ground.

  2. Fragonard is a tease..he knows exactly what he is doing!

  3. A voluntary plunge into vulnerability also invites a certain measure of potential horror. Perhaps that is part of the excitement.

  4. And the girl, so naughty, reveling, knowing that she is going to shock!