François Boucher
The Visit of Venus to Vulcan


Click on the picture to see an enlarged version.

    • Oil on Canvas, 1754
    • Wallace Collection, London

This perfectly representative Boucher painting contains all the ingredients which distinguishes his art. The subject is from classical antiquity: the goddess Venus with her unprepossing husband, Vulcan, a blacksmith and forger of thunder bolts.. Boucher surrounds the unmatched pair with his usual throng of putti (small winged little boys), two of whom are carrying aloft the turtle doves which are traditionally associated with the goddess of love. Others are mischievously trying out the hammer and anvil associated with Vulcan, the god of the forge and of thunder.

The theme of the picture is clearly the triumph of love over power. Here Venus is pointing to Vulcan's heart which she has conquered, and thus this powerful god gazes up at her like a love-sick boy..

The scene does not have the feel of a historical painting. It is too intimate, too personal for that. But viewers would immediately have thought of the famous scene from the Aeniad where Venus goes to her husband to request magic armour for her half-god son, Aeneas.

 Return to Art and History Page

 Return to Boucher Page

 Next Boucher