compare and contrast art

            Jean-Honore Fragonard, through his 1766 Oil on Canvas The Swing painting, presents a theme of raw passion mounting to extreme highs. Similarly, Gian Lorenzo Bernini describes a loving relationship between two entities through his 1647-1652 Ecstasy of Saint Theresa sculpture. The two artists’ works are however different with regard to various significant aspects. For example, the kinds of love portrayed in the two artworks are quite different. Bernini portrays divine and spiritual love between two very religious entities. Conversely, Fragonard’s love is of sensual and bodily in nature. In addition, the styles employed by the two artists also differ. As an illustration, Fragonard employs oil on canvas type of painting to portray his subject. On the other hand, Bernini’s artwork is made through sculpture. Moreover, the two artists use varied materials to portray their images. While Bernini uses marble to make his Ecstasy of Saint Theresa artwork, Fragonard employs colors to present his The Swing image. The time periods in which the two artworks were developed also differ. Bernini’s sculpture is representative of the 17th century Roman Baroque art era and movement. Conversely, Fragonard made his painting in the 18th century Rococo period. The sculpture therefore represents the religious theme that pervaded this period. In addition, the painting espouses the prevailing spirit of love within the ancient system prior to the French revolution. All in all, both Fragonard and Bernini describe various types of love through their, respectively, The Swing and Ecstasy of Saint Theresa artworks that are representative of the specific periods in which the artworks were made.

            For example, Fragonard’s The Swing painting is a typical representation of the love-laden spirit that pervaded the eighteenth century Roroco art era. The lustful way in which the young male suitor looks at the maiden above him fully demonstrates these sensual sentiments. To complement the scenario, the maiden longingly looks at the young man. The 1700s court painting that existed in France is captured through this painting (The Swing – Jean-Honore Fragonard). On the contrary, Bernini’s Ecstasy of Saint Theresa sculpture espouses the spirit of spiritual inclination that ruled the seventeenth century Baroque art period. The highly charged nature of the stares exchanged by the celestial angel and Saint Theresa testify to this religious theme.

Regarding stylistic traits of the 2 artworks, Fragonard employs highly decorative color schemes that reflect the sentiments of French aristocracy that gave support to this type of painting. The formal surface decorations that characterized this society are evident through the painting. Captured in this painting is the high level of imagination that was also characteristic of this period. Conversely, the spiritually-inclined sentiments of the seventeenth-century Roman world are captured through Fragonard’s Ecstasy of Saint Theresa sculpture. The sculpture shows a deep kind of affection between a divine and a mortal entity. In effect, this sculpture reflects the prevailing religious views that the heavens could have a beneficial communion with the earthly humans. Saint Theresa is thus shown to be intimately connected to the divine angel that influences her moods.

Regarding the respective subject matter of the 2 artworks, in the Ecstasy of Saint Theresa sculpture, the figures of an angel and saint Theresa are portrayed. In addition, the 2 forms are suspended in the air. The expressions on the angel’s and the saint’s faces illustrate deep affection. Specifically, Saint Theresa appears to be so smitten by the angel that she has the expression of full surrender in her face. For instance, her eyes are closed as she experiences deep ecstasy because of her affectionate proximity to the angel. Their bodies are also slightly displaced. To this end, the angel seems to be slightly bent backwards and to the left as he aims a golden arrow at Saint Theresa. Conversely the figure of Saint Theresa appears to be sinking on the clouds on which she sits. He left foot thus appears to have lost grip.  She thus seems to be falling. Central to the sculpture are the angel, who moves towards the forefront, as well as the apparently sinking saint Theresa. The arrow in the angel’s right hand is however the most outstanding aspect of the sculpture. The angel seems to be aiming the arrow at the saint’s heart.  On the other hand, Fragonard’s The Swing artwork depicts a young maiden enjoying her time on a swing. Behind, and slightly below the young girl is a rather older clergyman who has given her the push to move forward on the swing. Before and slightly below the young girl is a young smartly dressed man who gazes at her with curiosity and desire. The legs of the girl are also wide part, thus exposing her underwear at which the young man lustfully looks. The right leg shoe of the girl has also flown off due to her forward movement and is way above her. The young man has his hat in his hand and is partially hidden by some luxuriant flower shrubs.

The two artworks consist of various symbolic elements that demonstrate the profound affection that exists between Saint Theresa and the angel.  For example, in the Fragonard‘s swing painting, the girl has allowed her shoe to fly off to illustrate her total surrender to the young man before her. Moreover, the action of the young man of removing his hat shows that he respects the maiden. The presence of the clergyman is also symbolic, signifying that the envisaged relationship between the maiden and the young man has religious backing. The pink color of the maiden’s dress symbolizes her purity. Moreover, the dolphins in the water near the young man symbolize love. Similarly, Bernini’s sculpture has various symbolic elements. To begin with, the arrow held by the angel has tow symbolic connotations. Firstly, it alludes to the mythical cupid who has the power to make any lady love him. Secondly, by holding the arrow such that it points at saint Theresa’s heart area, the angel symbolizes his love-based bond with the saint. On the other hand, the figure of death that is below the saint symbolizes bad times. In addition, the sparkly appearance of the angel and the saint’s figure points to their happiness and purity.

Regarding similarities, The Swing and the Ecstasy of Saint Theresa present a common theme of love. The 2 artworks are however dissimilar with regard to their specific subject make. While the Ecstasy of Saint Theresa represents spiritual love, The Swing represents earthly affection. This comparison is appropriate because it demonstrates the various prevailing sentiments that existed when the artworks were made. Fragonard‘s The Swing painting demonstrates the courtly painting habits that existed in 18th century France. On the contrary, Bernini’s Ecstasy of Saint Theresa illustrates the religious views that existed in 17th century Rome.

Works Cited

The Swing – Jean-Honore Fragonard.18 may 2010.  <>.


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