Wednesday, 25 November 2009
VOYEURS AND EXHIBITIONISTS
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.