The J. Paul Getty Museum

Tapestry: Vénus aux forges de Vulcain, from Les Tentures de François Boucher Series

Object Details


Tapestry: Vénus aux forges de Vulcain, from Les Tentures de François Boucher Series


After painting by François Boucher (French, 1703 - 1770)
and after designs by Maurice Jacques (French, about 1712 - 1784)
and after designs by Louis Tessier (French, about 1719 - 1781)
and Jacques Neilson (British, Scottish, about 1718 - 1788)
Royal Factory of Furniture to the Crown at the Gobelins Manufactory (French, founded 1662 - present)




France (Place Created)




Wool and silk

Object Number:



384.8 × 497.6 cm (151 1/2 × 195 7/8 in.)

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Object Description

An oval roundel imitating a framed painting fills the center of this tapestry. In a scene from Virgil's Aeneid, the goddess Venus approaches her husband Vulcan, trying to coax him to make weapons for her mortal son Aeneas. She has just descended from her chariot in the clouds on the left, accompanied by six white doves and a cupid. Vulcan sits with his hammer and sword, while two cyclopes work in his forge on the right.

The designers expanded the size of the wide border, known as the alentours, to fill the required space on a particularly long wall. The floral garlands, metal vases, and exotic birds are elements common to several of the other tapestries in this set, but two new trophies hanging from blue ribbons were added. To the left hangs an ornament symbolizing pastoral music by incorporating a horn, a book of music, and two tambourines. To the right, a straw basket, shepherd's horn, a drum, and floral headbands symbolize pastoral activities.

This tapestry is also based on designs by Louis Tessier and Jacques Neilson.


Louis XVI, King of France, French, 1754 - 1793, given as one of a set of four tapestries to Grand Duke Paul Petrovitch and Grand Duchess Maria Feodorovna of Russia in 1782.

1782 - 1801

Grand Duke Paul Petrovitch of Russia, later Czar Paul I, 1754 - 1801 and Grand Duchess Maria Feodorovna of Russia, 1759 - 1828 (hung at the Palace of Pavlovsk, near St. Petersburg, Russia), by inheritance within the Russian Imperial Collection.

1801 - 1917

Russian Imperial Collection (Palace of Pavlovsk, near St. Petersburg, Russia), nationalized during the Russian Revolution.

after 1917 - 1931/1932

Soviet government, Russian, (Palace of Pavlovsk), and delivered to the State Trading Office known as Antikvariart on September 17, 1931 [sold 1932 to Joseph Duveen].

1932 - 1964

Duveen Brothers, Inc. (New York City, New York)
Source: Duveen Bros. Records, Pavlovsk Palace Collection, GRI, 960015, b.271, f.23; Correspondence: Carlhian et Cie, 1946-1961, b.356, f.1; Photographs and inventories [...], 1920s, Duveen Stock Documentation, GRI, 2007.D.1, b.673, f.3, b.676, f.3, b.677.

1964 - 1971

Norton Simon, American, 1907 - 1993
Source: Duveen Bros. Records, Edward Fowles papers, 1907-1981: Edward Fowles Correspondence with Norton Simon, 1961-1974, GRI, 960015, b. 407, f. 3-4. Listed under the stock number 29618.


through The Norton Simon Foundation [sold as one of a set of four tapestries, Parke-Bernet, New York, May 8, 1971, lot 233, to the J. Paul Getty Museum]

The J. Paul Getty Collection (June 29 to September 3, 1972)
  • The Minneapolis Institute of Art (Minneapolis), June 29 to September 3, 1972
War and Peace, A German Empress at the Castle of Pavlovsk (November 9, 2001 to February 10, 2002) (p. 324, illus.)
  • Haus der Kunst (Munich), November 9, 2001 to February 10, 2002

Fenaille, Maurice. Etat général des tapisseries de la Manufacture des Gobelins (Paris: Imprimerie nationale: Hachette, 1903), vol. 4, pp. 285-87.

Feodorovna, Grand Duchess Maria. "Descriptions of the Grand Palace of Pavlovsk, 1795." Les Trésors d'art en Russie. Alexander Benois, ed. (St. Petersburg, 1907), vol. 3 (1903), p. 375 ill., plates 116-15 and pp. 349-50.

Hunter, George Leland. The Practical Book of Tapestries (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1925), p. 190.

Conway, Martin. Art Treasures in Soviet Russia (London: Edward Arnold & Co, 1925), p. 125.

Ackerman, Phyllis. Tapestry: the Mirror of Civilization (New York: Oxford University Press, 1933), p. 277, pl. 45.

Dauterman, Carl Christian, James Parker, and Edith Appleton Standen. Decorative Art from the Samuel H. Kress Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art: The Tapestry Room from Croome Court, Furniture, Textiles, Sèvres Porcelains, and Other Objects (London: Phaidon Press for the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, 1964), p. 52, in the entry by Standen, "The Tapestry Room from Croome Court.".

Jarry, Madeleine. "A Wealth of Boucher Tapestries in American Museums." Antiques (August 1972), pp. 222-31.

The J. Paul Getty Collection, exh. cat. (Minneapolis: Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 1972), unpaginated, no. 59, ill.

Fredericksen, Burton B., ed. The J. Paul Getty Museum: Greek and Roman Antiquities, Western European Paintings, French Decorative Arts of the Eighteenth Century (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1975), pp. 172-73, ill.

Fowles, Edward. Memories of Duveen Brothers (London: Times Books, 1976), pp. 195, 198 and ill. between pp. 104-5.

Wilson, Gillian. Selections from the Decorative Arts in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1983), pp. 76-77, no. 38.

Standen, Edith Appleton. European Post-Medieval Tapestries and Related Hangings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2 vols. (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1985), vol. 1, p. 397.

Sassoon, Adrian, and Gillian Wilson. Decorative Arts: A Handbook of the Collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1986), pp. 106-7, no. 224.

Standen, Edith A. "Boucher as a Tapestry Designer." François Boucher 1703-1770, exh. cat. (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1986), pp. 325-33.

Massie, Suzanne. Pavlovsk: The Life of a Russian Palace (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1990), p. 310.

Bremer-David, Charissa, et al. Decorative Arts: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue of the Collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1993), pp. 177-78, no. 301.

Ducamp, Emmanuel, ed. Pavlosk: The Palace and the Park (Paris: Alain de Gourcuff, 1993), p. 53.

Verchinia, N.M. "Silks, Tapestries, and Embroideries." Pavlosk: The Collections. Emmanuel Ducamp, ed. (Paris: Alain de Gourcuff, 1993), p. 120.

Bremer-David, Charissa. French Tapestries and Textiles in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), pp. 54-69, no. 7.

Wilson, Gillian, and Catherine Hess. Summary Catalogue of European Decorative Arts in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2001), pp. 157-58, no. 309.

Gafifullin, Rifat. "Kunst und Antiquitäten aus den Leningrader Schlossmuseen, 1926-1934." Verkaufte Kultur, Die sowjetischen Kunst-und Antiquitäten exporte 1919-1938. Waltraud Bayer, ed. (Frankfurt am Main: Lang, 2001), p. 75, note 39 on p. 85, ill. pp. 76-77.

Krieg und Frieden: Eine Deutsche Zarin in Schloss Pawlowsk, exh. cat. (Munich: Haus der Kunst, 2001- 2002), pp. 322-23, no. 186.

Campbell, Sara. Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best (New Haven and London: The Norton Simon Foundation in association with Yale University Press, 2010), pp. 111 and 460, cat. D216A-D, ill p. 100, fig. 7 and p. 460 as D216B.

Semyonova, Natalya and Nicolas V. Iljine, eds. Selling Russia's Treasures: The Soviet Trade in Nationalized Art 1917-1938 (Paris and New York: The M. T. Abraham Center for the Visual Arts Foundation in association with Abbeville Press, 2013), p. 110, ill. p. 111.

Campbell, Sara. Lock, Stock, & Barrel: Norton Simon & the House of Duveen (Pasadena: Norton Simon Museum, 2014), ill. p. 20, fig. 10; p. 47, cat. D216A-D.

Vittet, Jean. Les Gobelins au siècle des Lumières, Un âge d'or de la manufacture royale (Paris: Swan éditeur, 2014), p. 229.