Rococo

During the early 18th century a new artistic movement was emerging in France. Rococo (also referred to as the later Baroque period) is characterized by soft colors and curvy lines, and depicts scenes of love, nature, light-hearted entertainment, and youth. The word “rococo” derives from rocaille, which is French for rubble or rock. Rocaille refers to the shell-work in garden grottoes and is used as a descriptive word for the serpentine patterns seen in the art of the Rococo period.

Commissioned by the notorious French libertine Baron de St. Julien as a portrait of his mistress, The Swing was to be painted to the following specificity: "I should like you to paint Madame seated on a swing being pushed by a Bishop. " 
Thomas Gainsborough's many portraits of English aristocrats, this large painting stands out as a remarkably loose and freely painted example. He conveyed a sense of immediacy in the large sweeping brushstrokes used to describe material, foliage, and background sky. Short, curved brushstrokes form the tree trunk, while longer strokes of blue and white paint create an illusion of shimmering, rustling fabric. Small dabs of white and gold paint applied to the shawl lend it a rich, glimmering effect. 
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