The Toilette of Venus

Artist: François Boucher (French, Paris 1703–1770 Paris)

Date: 1751

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 42 5/8 x 33 1/2 in. (108.3 x 85.1 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Bequest of William K. Vanderbilt, 1920

Accession Number: 20.155.9


Madame de Pompadour, mistress of Louis XV, admired Boucher and was his patroness from 1747 until her death in 1764. This famous work was commissioned for the dressing room at Bellevue, her château near Paris. In 1750 she had acted the title role in a play, staged at Versailles, called The Toilet of Venus, and while this is not a portrait, a flattering allusion may have been intended.
The bodies of the goddess and her cupids are soft, supple, and blond. The carved and gilded rococo sofa, the silk, velvet, and gold damask drapery, are heavy and elaborate enough for the Victorian era.