Fragonard’s The Swing has been cleaned up

The artist ignored the request for a bishop, and the cleaning revealed that the middle-aged man – sometimes theorized to be the episcopal figure – is actually wearing blue and not the church’s black robe. His expression has also become clearer from the extensive restoration work.

Mrs Jackall said: “I think it’s a very exciting expression. He looks like he’s smiling in a way that seems very happy.

“One begins to realize that the two men are not necessarily aware of each other, and that she may be the only one who knows the whole story.

“Since I have spent more time with this older gentleman, I get the impression that he is completely ignorant, he could well swing his wife, he does not know what is going on. He is very happy.”

The Wallace Collection houses the largest collection of Fragonard works outside of France, where he was popular in the era of libertinism in the 18th century, before the Enlightenment morality made his works less fashionable.

Dr. Xavier Bray, director of the Wallace Collection, said: “We have approached the preservation of Fragonard’s masterpiece with great sensitivity and an acute awareness of our responsibility to the public to preserve this iconic painting.

“The results have been astonishing, and Fragonard’s true genius has been revealed.”

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