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Fragonard's Genius Revealed

Restoration work on one of the most celebrated paintings in French art history has revealed fresh vibrancy, showing the artist’s "true genius," says Xavier Bray, director of the Wallace Collection.

When Jean-Honoré Fragonard created The Swing in 1767 it was considered at the time to be highly risqué, depicting of a young woman revealing a glimpse of her undergarments from her perch beneath a tree in a verdant garden.

The painting – described as “the most iconic painting of the entire rococo movement” – will go back on display at the Wallace Collection in London shortly after the removal of a thick, yellowed, 100-year-old varnish and earlier discoloured retouches. The girl now shines out from the painting and the delicate lace adorning her silk dress is crisper, and her facial expression is clearer.

Images show the progress of the conservation work on the painting.

“The removal of the varnish has brought it back to life. It is really transformed. Fragonard’s technical mastery is once again on display with very bold colour contrasts reawakened, and little details that have always been there are now apparent again,” said Yuriko Jackall, curator of French paintings at the Wallace Collection.

Rococo painting, which originated in early 18th century Paris, is characterized by soft colors and curvy lines, and depicts scenes of love, nature, amorous encounters, light-hearted entertainment, and youth.

Photographs: Cassandra Parsons/The Wallace Collection


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