The Swing, otherwise titled as L’Escarpolette in French, is a Rococo painting by Jean-Honoré Fragonard. It has alternatively been titled The Happy Accidents of the Swing, and in French, it is Les hasards heureux de l’escarpolette.
Fragonard’s “client” requested a depiction of his mistress and himself. She was requested to be portrayed on a swing with a bishop pushing her, while the client was in the bushes with a full-frontal view of his maîtresse.
A young woman as the central figure, she is wearing a beautiful light pink-peach dress or gown. She enlivens the scene as she swings, As she swings forward, she flings her heeled slipper from her left foot.
There are many symbolic references, each suggestive of sexual desire, courtship, infidelity, and restriction. The Cupid statue is reminiscent of Etienne-Maurice Falconet’s Menacing Cupid (1757). The woman is an embodiment of letting loose.
Fragonard created a contrast of light and dark by highlighting the woman as she swings. She also appears to be the only colorful figure in the composition, where her dress is like a beacon of color and light.
There is a variety of implied textures in this composition, starting with the woman’s dress, which appears soft and almost weightless as the air combs through it on the swing. There is a looseness and expressiveness in Fragonard’s manner.