Venus at Vulcan's Forge

François Boucher
French (1703–1770)
18th century
1769
Oil on canvas
107 11/16 x 80 9/16 in. (273.5 x 204.7 cm) Framed: 110 3/4 x 83 3/4 x 2 1/2 in. (281.3 x 212.7 x 6.4 cm)
AP 1972.09
Currently On View
In this canvas, Boucher goes to the heart of Virgil’s narrative in the eighth book of The Aeneid, in which Venus induces Vulcan to forge arms for her mortal son Aeneas, champion of the Trojans against the Greeks. Vulcan strains forward, presenting the sword toward Venus with a sense of urgency and yearning clearly visible on his face. Seized by passion, he is totally under the sway of Venus, a fact Boucher stresses by the doves and putto reclining on his lap and by the putto at Venus’s side, who aims his arrow directly at Vulcan’s heart. Vulcan has succumbed to love, a fire more subtle and more powerful than that with which he forges steel.

Provenance

Painted for Jean-François Bergeret de Frouville [d.1783], hôtel Bergeret de Frouville, Paris, 1769; by inheritance, with hôtel Bergeret de Frouville, to his daughter, Marie-Charlotte, Paris; by inheritance with Hôtel Bergeret de Frouville to her second husband, Antoine-Jean-Baptiste Hervé d’Arbonne, Paris France; purchased in 1811, with hôtel Bergeret de Frouville, by Gabriel-Louis-François Périer [d. 1815], Paris; by inheritance, with hôtel Bergeret de Frouville, to his son, Amédée-Gabriel Périer [d. 1838], Paris; by inheritance, with hôtel Bergeret de Frouville, later hôtel Marcilly, to his cousin, Pierre-Louis Raffard, comte de Marcilly, Paris; by inheritance, with hôtel Marcilly, to his widow, Eugénie-Zoé, comtesse de Marcilly, Paris; M. Johnson, c. 1882. Baron Edmond James de Rothschild [1845-1934], hôtel de Pontalba, rue de Faubourg Saint-Honoré, Paris, probably 1882 and before 1891; presumably by inheritance, with hôtel de Pontalba, to his widow, Adelheid [1853-1935], Paris; by inheritance, with hôtel de Pontalba, to her son, Maurice de Rothschild [1881-1957], Paris; confiscated by German occupation forces, c. 1940; restituted to Rothschild family, Paris, c. 1945-46; baron Edmond Alphonse Maurice Jules Jacques de Rothschild [1926-1997], Paris and Geneva; (Allwa Handelsgesellschaft, Zurich); purchased through (Hallborough Gallery, London) by Kimbell Art Foundation, Fort Worth, 1972.