Fragonard's 'The Swing 'Is A Model of French Beauty & Decadence

Stumpet & Pink, Fragonard’s A Young Girl Reading, Angela FriedmanLa Lilouche, Love Me Sugar, Fragonard’s Blind Man’s Buff, I.D. Sarrieri

Fred & Ginger, Fragonard’s The Swing, La LiloucheI’m really impressed with the amount of patience and thought that The Lingerie Lesbian is putting into her posts that marry art and fine lingerie. Her choices are lovely with detailed descriptions and lingerie links.

In this post the Lingerie Lesbian focuses on French painter Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732-1806), who  displayed an abundance of veiled eroticism and controlled sensual hedonism in his paintings. 

Jean-Honoré Fragonard ‘The Swing’Sensual Context and Decadence of ‘The Swing’

“The Swing” painting (1767), commissioned by the “notorious French libertine Baron de St. Julien as a portrait of his mistress” came with specific instructions dictated by the baron himself: “I should like you to paint Madame seated on a swing being pushed by a Bishop.” 

In the foreground the playboy Baron himself is depicted, reclining in the lush shrubbery, one arm outstretched towards the maiden’s skirts, his other arm holding his balance. He gave very specific instructions to Fragonard, stating “Place me in a position where I can observe the legs of that charming girl.”

The plot thickened as the painting evolved, with the proposed Bishop replaced by the mistress’s husband, who exists primarily in the shadows while the Baron is illuminated under her dress. 

The inanimate objects add to the story as well. Two cherubs below the swing appear concerned by the sordid actions of the humans above them, one looking up at the women in trepidation and the other looking away from the action with a scowl. On the left side of the image is a stone statue of Cupid who raises a finger to his lips to point out the secretive nature of the impending affair.

In the world of Fragonard, an affair is to be expected among men — and women, too. The existing — or soon to be — mistress flies through the air in frivolous abandon, losing her shoe in an action powered by her husband.

For many, ‘The Swing’ represents the decadence of the old regime on the eve of the French Revolution.

The Goddesses Are Coming!

Back to the Lingerie Lesbian and her visual collages, I’m employing similar banner ideas on my new GlamTribale jewelry collection.

Below we have an Aphrodite collection banner. I struggled considerably to bring the GlamTribale website together colorwise until one day I asked myself “Anne, if this was a lingerie website, what would it look like?”

That simple question led me out of a quagmire that had consumed me for months. Designing the jewelry website as if it was selling lingerie got us to a place of sensual beauty and sophistication that was previously just not there.

Our GlamTribale goddesses are far more powerful than Fragonard’s jeune fille using youth and sexuality to gain favor in the world of older men. I daresay that most of them could have brought the Baron to his knees, begging for mercy if they chose.

Alas, such powers and cultural influence no longer defined female nature by 1767, although Delacroix’s bare-breasted with a musket (lady) ‘Liberty Leading the People’ would commemorate the July Revolution of 1830, 50 years later. This event toppled Charles X of France, bringing to an end the era of the French Revolution of 1789-94 and launching the Age of Enlightenment. ~ Anne