Apr 1, 2015

The Swing

The Swing


Nicolas Delaunay

(French, 1739–1792)

after Jean-Honoré Fragonard

(French, 1732–1806)


Charles W. Harkness Endowment Fund 1923.580

Catalogue raisonné: Portalis and Béraldi 540



This large print, based on a painting by Fragonard, symbolizes the pleasure-seeking and frivolous aspects of Rococo art. Unbeknownst to the man pushing the swing, a suitor reclining in the bushes gets a glimpse under the woman's skirts as she flies through the air, losing her shoe. Contemporary viewers would have understood the association of the lost shoe with sexual dalliance, a motif reinforced by other elements within the image, such as the cavorting nude figures on the base of the statue of a cupid who gestures "hush." Delaunay's work is extremely successful in translating the qualities of a painting into the more restricted vocabulary of graphic techniques. He masterfully transposed Fragonard's charming composition, retaining all of the movement and verve of the painting. Using a rich variety of hatchings, cross-hatchings, and dots, Delaunay conveyed the tonal range, lighting, and spatial effects of the painting remarkably well.

See also
PR - Engraving
Type of artwork: 

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