Allegory of Music1764
Although they bear different dates, François Boucher’s Allegory of Painting [FIG. 1] and Allegory of Music have been associated with each other since they came to light in the late nineteenth century. Virtually identical in size, their compositions are well balanced and their subjects complementary. In each picture the arts of Painting and Music are personified as beautiful if rather undifferentiated young women, seated against the sky on what appear to be billowing cloud formations. One turns her back to the viewer, while her companion reclines with her figure facing the picture plane. Their hair is pinned up to reveal the contours of their necks, and their bodies are wrapped in flowing drapes — one could hardly call it clothing — that fall away to reveal a bare shoulder, a leg, or a breast. The women are surrounded by attributes appropriate to their arts and are doted on by winged putti, who engage in playful activities. In Painting, one putto, reclining while holding a blazing torch, serves as a model for the maiden, who sketches his form on an oval canvas. A companion next to him looks on, while a third supports the canvas and holds aloft a laurel wreath. Their counterparts in Music serve similar functions, one holding a wreath and offering the woman a flûte à bec, the other pulling at the strings of a lyre.
- 103.5 x 130 cm
- Oil on canvas
- Courtesy of National Gallery of Art, Washington
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