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In the Frame for February 2012: Charles Sims’ ‘The Swing’

This month our Registrar has chosen to highlight a painting by Charles Sims (1873-1928) entitled The Swing. She writes:

I am intrigued by this watercolour painting by Charles Sims, as it looks like it could be a reinterpreted version of Jean-Honore Fragonard’s 1766 painting of the same name (which is on display in central London at the Wallace Collection).

Sims studied at the Royal College of Art and the Royal Academy Schools. He was an accomplished artist, who would have had training in art history and been aware of Fragonard’s painting. Through visually referencing the composition of the historic work, Sims would have been demonstrating his knowledge as well as his compulsion to revisit the work with his own thoughts and style. Where the Fragonard painting focuses on the flagrant eroticism between three figures, Sims’ rounded composition has created a softer, more organic scene, which is reinforced by his subtle brushwork and natural palette. Sims has concentrated on natural playfulness, shown through the dappled light and the delicate treatment and integration of the figures into the overwhelming presence of trees and greenery.

The focus of Sims’ painting seems to have been on the natural landscape, and he was perhaps saying through his version of The Swing that people and their actions are as much a part of nature as are plants and trees.