Sunday, December 23, 2012

Mars and Venus: allegory of peace by Louis-Jean-François Lagrenée

Here, as our 100th post on this blog, is a gently seductive piece by French painter Louis-Jean-François Lagrenée (1724-1805).  Painted in 1770 it shows Mars and Venus, rather racily for the time, in bed together.  No doubt the use of the word "allegory" in the title helped to make this more acceptable.  The whole atmosphere of the picture is determinedly post-coital and  Lagrenée has Mars pushing aside the (beautifully rendered) drapes around the bed to reveal the naked hidden treasure within. Your eye is immediately drawn to Venus' pale body; her skin painted in much lighter tones than Mars'.  Venus has tamed Mars, as his abandoned sword and helmet attest, through love (or, perhaps, sex).

Louis-Jean-François Lagrenée

Lagrenée won the Prix de Rome at the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture in 1749 and went to Rome to study under Carle van Loo, a Rococo rival of Boucher and teacher of Fragonard as well. He was received into the Académie in 1755 and from 1760 until 1762, he directed the Saint Petersburg Academy at the Russian court. When he returned to France he became a professor at the French Académie and although he painted some large official commissions it was generally his smaller works which were better received and more popular with collectors.   This painting, for example, which now hangs in the J. Paul Getty museum in Los Angeles, is a comparatively modest 40 inches by 30 inches in size.

Another, even more racy, Lagrenée painting after Christmas.
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  1. Great art that is truly erotic.

  2. Thank you for your comment> It's nice to know some people appreciate my fine art posts too!