Having undergone gentle cleaning and restoration, The Swing has revealed previously hidden details. These immerse you in a woodland scene in where you can almost hear the birds sing. Chris Watson, one of the world’s leading wildlife recordists, has responded to this and created a special composition for the Wallace Collection that explores the painting through sound. Here is Chris, discussing his work:
‘Gazing into The Swing [Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s (1732–1806)], I was immediately drawn to the painting’s sheer vivacity and imagined the alarms of a nearby blackbird on discovering the scene. The foreground colour and detail are represented by the quiet flow of water from below and the gentle creak of rope carrying the amused young woman to and fro.
The surrounding woodland is full of birdsong; a mistle thrush, robin, nuthatch and several leaf warblers contribute to a rich chorus. From the depths of the forest behind, red deer stags bellow in rivalry to compete for the hinds. To conclude, a nightingale sings from cover, an expression of desire to draw down a partner from above.
The woodland chorus was recorded in the Forêt de Chaux, the nightingale song is from the nearby Arc et Senans and the red deer were recorded at Légrillou in the Pyrenees’.