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Francois Boucher Paintings in European Gallery

November 19, 2009

The second floor European gallery was recently reinstalled, and among the new works of art is a series of four mythological paintings by the French court painter Francois Boucher. The paintings are on loan from the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth. The works of art included in the installation are Mercury Confiding the Infant Bacchus to the Nymphs of Nysa, Boreas Abducting Oreithyia, Venus at Vulcan’s Forge, and Juno Asking Aeolus to Release the Winds. All of these paintings were produced for Jean-Francois Bergeret de Frouville in 1769, the year before Boucher died.

What a wonderful sight these paintings are! When I see them in person, I am always amazed at their large scale. Light pinks, greens, and blues express the grandness of eighteenth-century French Rococo art in the hands of Boucher.  Each painting was carefully composed by the artist using diagonal lines to form each scene and arranging the mythological figures in the foreground and in the sky.  Boucher has given these figures the curves of voluptuous women and muscular men. 

Boucher portrays each god or goddess with his or her attributes to tell each story. For instance, in Venus at Vulcan’s Forge, Vulcan is seen leaning forward giving Venus a sword, completely under her powers and submissive to her will. In fact, he is in love with Venus, which Boucher indicates with the doves and putti on his lap. In the lower right corner, a three-eyed figure in Vulcan’s forge is shaping steel to make weapons. Above the main scene the sky is revealed to show putti and other figures looking on at Venus and Vulcan.

To see photographs of these paintings being installed in the European gallery, visit the DMA’s Flickr site.

Amy Wolf
Teaching Programs Coordinator

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