The Birth of Venus


The Birth of Venus

Francois Boucher 1754

Venus was the Roman goddess of love, the name Venus meaning beauty and charm. The worship of Venus began in pre-Roman Italy where she was the deity of gardens and vegetation. This painting, entitled The Birth of Venus, of 1754 by Francois Boucher (1703-1770), depicts Venus with two amours, or loves. She is draped by velvet and the waves of the sea, as they frolic in the background. As the story goes, she was born from the foam of the sea, and wafted into the shores of Cyprus, accompanied by dolphins, which can be seen in the painting. Venus was the daughter of Jupiter and Dione, and the mother of Cupid. She would instruct her son to shoot arrows at individuals which would bestow love upon them. She was injured herself, however, by one of his very arrows. Venus’ passion was for Adonis, who tragically came to his end when hunting wild boar.

Influenced by such masters as Rubens and Watteau, Boucher was a French painter of the Rococo style, born in Paris, who at a young age was elected to The Royal Academy. He was a successful and prolific painter in his day and is perhaps one of the most famous painters of the 18th Century. His paintings of idyllic pastoral scenes, classical themes and mythology are quite recognizable, and typical of the Rococo style, which was very delicate in colour and frivolous in manner. It was intended as a decorative style, not one of seriousness, and one that would adorn the surroundings of the wealthy. Boucher was also commissioned to execute designs for Beauvais and Gobelins tapestries.

Boucher is known for the sense of the erotic that he pours into his paintings, deliberately corrupting the innocence of the rural countryside. He is most famous for his portraits of Madame de Pompadour, mistress of Louise XV, who was a great admirer of Boucher’s work. Boucher was to become First Painter to the King in 1765. His work varied from intimate family scenes, where his wife and children were often depicted, to the erotic depiction of his models, as we see in the portrait of Marie-Louis O’Murphy, c 1752, another mistress to the King, depicted as the ‘Blonde Odalisque’.

Francois Boucher’s The Birth of Venus is now housed in the Wallace Collection in London. It is approximately 31 inches x 55 inches as is an oil on canvas.

Source by Marianne E Henio

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