The Swing (Jean-Honoré Fragonard ) 1767

By “a happy coincidence”, the lover is located in the right place to see the legs (or even more?!) of his mistress: a vision that disturbs him to the point of making him lose his balance and capsize him in the flowers.

On the far right, the bishop desired by the Baron has been replaced by Fragonard by a deceived husband who pushes the swing with a smile on his face without suspecting that his wife is having fun with another man.

On the left side, a Putto, symbol of Love, holds a finger to his lips and invites us to keep silent… A way to invite the spectator into confidence!

The painting depicts an elegantly dressed young woman on a swing. A smiling young man, hiding in the bushes below and to the left, points towards her billowing dress with hat in hand. A smiling older man, who is nearly hidden in the shadows on the right, propels the swing with a pair of ropes, as a small white dog barks nearby.
The lady is wearing a bergère hat (shepherdess hat), as she flings her shoe with an outstretched left foot. Two statues are present, one of a putto, who watches from above the young man on the left with its finger in front of its lips, the other of two putti is on the right beside the older man.
According to the memoirs of the dramatist Charles Collé, a courtier (homme de la cour) first asked Gabriel François Doyen to make this painting of him and his mistress. Not comfortable with this frivolous work, Doyen refused and passed on the commission to Fragonard. The man had requested a portrait of his mistress seated on a swing being pushed by a bishop, but Fragonard painted a layman.

The Blue Boy

  • Artist: Thomas Gainsborough
  • Year: 1770
    Gainsborough’s “Blue Boy” was an immediate hit when it first debuted at London’s Royal Academy of Arts and continues to be reproduced for popular consumption. Believed to be a portrait of Jonathan Buttall, whose father was a friend of Gainsborough, Buttall owned the painting until bankruptcy forced him to sell it.
    The painting sold for $778,000 (or about $9.29 million today), making it the most expensive artwork ever sold at the time.

The Great Wave of Kanagawa

Café Terrace at Night – Vincent Van Gogh

Café Terrace at Night, a painting by Vincent Van Gogh completed in 1888, came under the spotlight recently when scholars claimed to have found within it, a homage to Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper.

And sure enough, if one looks closely, you can see that the painting features twelve seated diners and a standing server, and what could be seen as a cross behind the central, long-haired figure.

Although this symbolism was never explicitly stated by Van Gogh, in a letter he wrote to his brother soon after completing the painting, the artist claimed that he had a “tremendous need for, shall I say the word – for religion”, making the reference to The Last Supper in the painting very likely.