BOUCHER, François
(b. 1703, Paris, d. 1770, Paris)

Pan and Syrinx

c. 1762
Oil on canvas, 95 x 79 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid

Pan in Greek mythology is the god of woods and fields, flocks and herds. In Renaissance allegory he personifies Lust; he charmed the nymphs with the music of his pipes. The story of Pan and Syrinx is described by Ovid (Metamorphoses 1:689-713). Pan was pursuing a nymph of Arcadia named Syrinx when they reached the River Ladon which blocked her escape. To avoid the god's clutches she prayed to be transformed, and Pan unexpectedly found himself holding an armful of tall reeds. The sound of the wind blowing through them so pleased him that he cut some and made a set of pipes which are named after the nymph.