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‘Harley Quinn’ Season 3 Art Perfectly References Everyone’s Favorite Rococo Painting

Just a couple of gal pals.

Key art for Harley Quinn: The Animated Series season three key art with Harley and Ivy on the Swing together. Other characters in the bushes. Images: HBO Max.

Later this month, we’re getting the third season of Harley Quinn: The Animated Series, and after the stellar Eat. Bang! Kill. Tour by Tee Franklin, I’m so ready to see what the pair of part-time anti-heroes, full-time lovers has next in-store. In the last two weeks, HBO Max has released a trailer and given us the firm date of July 28 as the start of the new season! Following up with this promotion, Harley Quinn showrunner (and writer on Abbott Elementary) Patrick Schumacker shared key art (main promotional image) for season three, and it’s a reference to Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s rococo painting The Swing.

The Swing by Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1767).
(public domain)

You can just appreciate the homage as-is, even down to the shoe flying through the air, but knowing some details about the original and what was changed to makes this take that much cooler. In the late 1760s, a man in the French courts commissioned Jean-Honoré Fragonard to paint an image of him and his mistress. The unnamed mistress would be swinging, and he would recline on the ground, peeking up her skirt. While the patron asked specifically for a bishop to push his wife on the swing, Fragonard chose just a random man—probably because he wanted to keep getting clients.

The biggest difference is that there is no peeking. The artists choose to place Harley and Ivy side by side as equals. Something I really like is, while painting classic erotic *wink wink* imagery of French art like flowers and the maenads (similar to nymphs by specifically hanging with Dionysus), at the bottom of the pedestal, there’s no overt male gaze.

In addition to no one peaking up Ivy’s dress, the cherub (or putto) doesn’t have a finger next to its mouth like it’s saying, “Let’s keep this on the low.” Harley and Ivy are out, and they’re not hiding anything except maybe their secret lair. The cherub in The Swing is believed to be a reference to Etienne-Maurice Falconet, Menacing Cupid. (This time for King Louis XV’s mistress Madame de Pompadour.)

Also, instead of a bushy pink gown worked by a member of the French aristocracy (which is peak luxury, as this is about 20 years before the revolution), Ivy is wearing an ethically sourced dress made of flora and fauna. The rococo style is not just in reference to Fragonard’s painting, but how lush they kept the background and the show of excess. The last time I remember seeing painting references like these from a major studio was during Ana’s song during Frozen. However, in the first Classics… But Make It Gay, Shouty created my favorite version of this with two Black queer people

The Swing by Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1767) recreated in Frozen with Ana. Image: Disney.

(via Twitter, featured image: Warner Bros.)

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(she/her) Award-winning artist and blogger with experience and education in graphic design, art history, and museum studies. This resident of the yeeHaw land spends most of her time watching movies, reading and playing the same handful of video games—even as the playtime on Steam reaches the quadruple digits. Currently playing: Balder's Gate 3, Apex Legends, and CS:GO.