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Boreas Abducting Oreithyia, 1769

François Boucher

Failing to win the hand of the lovely Athenian princess Orethyia, one of the daughters of King Erechtheus, by gentle means, Boreas, the cold wind god of the North, decided to revert to his true nature of wildness and cold rage. The story is told by Ovid in the sixth book of the Metamorphoses, and Boucher admirably evokes the passion and fury of the tale. Boreas swoops down, concealed by dark and stormy clouds, and forcibly snatches up Oreithyia as she gathers flowers with her sisters. Boreas carried her back to his northern realm, where she later bore him twin sons, an event suggested by the putto’s two torches. The felled tree in the foreground, which leads the viewer into the composition, is one of the gnarled oaks that Boreas, in his violence, brought crashing down.


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.

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