|The Swing, 1767-68, Jean-Honore' Fragonard|
The Baron de St. Julien (something of a playboy) originally commissioned a history painter by the name of Doyen to do the work, giving specific instructions that his mistress should be pulled in her swing by a Bishop; and that he (the baron) should be placed in the painting in such a way that he might see her legs (and a good deal more, actually). Shocked at the request, Doyen refused the commission and suggested Fragonard in his place. Fragonard had few moral qualms about such a salacious painting, though he did substitute the woman's husband pulling the swing in place of the Bishop. The Baron lies hidden in the bushes in the lower left portion of the painting while the husband is in deep shadow at the far right. Centered in a bright ray of sunshine is the lovely young mistress, kicking off one slipper in the direction of her illicit gigolo. The painting is a riot of deep, fantasy woodland landscapery, symbolic antiquities, and dappled sunlight, highlighting unexpected details. Fragonard was working well beneath his potential, but at least he enjoyed what he did. Alas, once the Rococo style lost favor, he found himself old, without commissions, or influence. In 1806, he died impoverished and forgotten.