François Boucher
Diana returns from the Hunt

Click on the picture to see an enlarged version.

    • Oil on Canvas, 1747
    • 37 x 52 inches
    • Musée Cognacq-Jay, Paris
This painting is part of a series which were designed to decorate a small, but lavish hunting lodge. See the commentary on The Companions of Diana for an explanation of the subject matter. This larger picture shows the goddess herself, stripping off her hunting clothing, before the admiring glances of her companions. This nubile goddess, however, is no tender-hearted lady, as the slaughtered corpses of birds and rabbits confirm.

But apart from this symbolism, the trappings of mythology are irrelevant. The myth becomes only an opportunity for Boucher to offer near nudity, warmed by physical activity, suggestive of lust. For him, the goddess story should not interfere with the contemplation of the woman. Indeed it was an integral part of the rococo that the subject matter is always more girl than goddess.

Boucher is not known for his imagination, and his paintings seldom show any wild fights of fancy. This picture is representative in that it attempts no architecturalsettings; the trees, rocks, even the little animals and the companions simply fill the space left over once he has painted the stripping beauty. The "truth" of this picture lies in its observation of naked bodies, draperies that set them off, and the texture of caressable flesh conveyed by paint. This was all Boucher aimed at, and thus blends the natural and the artificial to make this enchanting scene.

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