Triumph of Venus| 1740 | Oil on Canvas | Francois Boucher
Francis Boucher was born in Paris and was one of the most celebrated decorative artists of the 18th century (Francis Boucher Biography, 2017). He was one of the most well known Rococo artists of his time. Triumph of Venus depicts Venus who was born of the sea. This painting shows cold colors and bold composition which are signature to the Rococo style. Morality and the Art of the Classical Era is what is connecting all three of my chosen pieces. This piece pushes the boundaries of most religious paintings and while playing with the idea of morality where it is not so important. The naked people were openly and freely expressing sexuality and there is a hidden youthfulness shown.
I think this piece is beautiful and very captivating. The colors and the focus on the ocean is what draws my attention, I think the paleness of the bodies really grabs your eyes to the center of the piece. One of my favorite parts of the piece is seeing the little naked angels playing with the fabric which brings so much texture to the piece.
Cupid and Psyche | 1817 | Oil on canvas | Jacques – Louis David
Jacques Louis David was born into a wealthy family from Paris. He struggled with school because of a facial tumor which impeded on his speech so he turned to art as a way to express himself. David uses this piece to show the conflict of idealized love and physical reality. The story goes that, cupid visited Psyche nightly under the condition that his identity was not known. This also shows a lack of morality in the painting as you can see the smirk on cupids face at his sexual conquest (Cupid and Psyche, 2017). Neoclassicism began to practice showing more morals in the painting but Jacques-Louis David pushed the boundaries of the time to paint this greek mythology influenced piece.
This piece gives me mixed emotions because of the story behind the piece, that he was practically taking advantage of her and the piece makes him seem so accomplished and her reaction is more embarrassed.
Cephalus and Procris | 1755 Oil on Canvas | Jean-Honore Fragonard
Jean-Honore Fragonard is often associated with his paintings of frivolity but he was also a very gifted Rococo painter. He often painted religious subjects, historical and mythological scenes showing a keen sense of human folly which leads into its association with Morality and the art of the Classic Era. He mainly painted light hearted erotic scenes for his private clients. This shows that most of his pieces like the one above lacked the common morals of the time and thats why it would not be painted for a church. This piece is also from the Rococo period because of the light colors and contrast shown. The story above is about Cephalus and Procris who were happily in love, when Eos the goddess of Dawn takes Cephalus to her bed where she then gets annoyed of his constant talk about his wife Procris. She finally returns him to his wife where Eos puts doubts in Cephalus’s head about his wife’s fidelity where it shows it leads to the painting above. Procris gets accidentally killed while Cephalus is hunting and she was spying on him because of rumors from a gossip (Shmoop, 2008).
I love this piece because of the Greek mythology behind it, the tragic almost Romeo and Juliet type story that we see all too often. The painting really draws on their emotions of sorrow and regret but also their love for each other. Rococo period is one of my favorite art periods because of the light colors used and the flawlessness of their skin, it makes the people look so fragile and delicate almost angelic.