(b. 1703, Paris, d. 1770, Paris)
The Toilet of Venus1751
Oil on canvas, 108 x 85 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
No French painter of the 18th century was more inextricably linked to court patronage than François Boucher. This picture was commissioned by Madame de Pompadour as part of the decoration for her cabinet de toilette at the Château de Bellevue, one of the residences she shared with Louis XV. The cupids and the doves are attributes of Venus as goddess of Love. The flowers allude to her role as patroness of gardens and the pearls to her mysterious birth from the sea. As a painter of nudes Boucher ranks with Rubens in the 17th century and Renoir in the 19th; among his contemporaries he had no equal.
The toilet of Venus is a timeless theme of sensuous seduction. You can view other depictions of Venus at Her Toilet in the Web Gallery of Art.