Venus on the Waves

Object Details


Venus on the Waves


François Boucher (French, 1703 - 1770)






Oil on canvas

Object Number:



265.7 × 76.5 cm (104 5/8 × 30 1/8 in.)

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François Boucher depicted a mythological world of delicate sensuality and indolence. Putti and doves attend Venus, the goddess of love, as she lounges amid a luxurious heap of drapery, while an elaborately decorative sky occupies the upper half of the painting. The artist used a pastel palette of blues, pinks, mauves, and peach tones and loose, rapid brushstrokes more characteristic of his tapestry designs than of his finished oil paintings.

In 1768, Jean-François Bergeret de Frouville commissioned a set of six mythological subjects for his house in Paris. Together with delicate furnishings of the period, these colorful paintings created a room of Rococo refinement and vivacity. Boucher painted the works, including this one and its companion piece, Aurora and Cephalus, just one year before his death. The other four paintings now belong to another American museum.

possibly 1768 - 1783

Jean-François Bergeret de Frouville, died 1783 (Paris, France), commissioned from the artist by Jean-François for the Hôtel Bergeret de Frouville, 1768; by inheritance to his daughter, Marie-Charlotte Bergeret de Frouville, 1783.

1783 -

Marie-Charlotte Bergeret de Frouville (Paris, France), possibly by inheritance to her second husband, Antoine-Jean-Baptiste Hervé d'Arbonne.

- 1811

Antoine-Jean-Baptiste Hervé d'Arbonne (Paris, France), sold to Gabriel-Louis-François Périer, 1811.

1811 - 1815

Gabriel-Louis-François Périer, died 1815 (Paris, France), by inheritance to Amédée-Gabriel Périer, 1815.

1815 - 1838

Amédée-Gabriel Périer, died 1838 (Paris, France), by inheritance to his cousin, Pierre-Louis Raffard, 1838.

1838 -

Pierre-Louis Raffard, count of Marcilly (Paris, France), by inheritance to Eugénie-Zoé Raffard.

- 1882

Eugénie-Zoé Raffard, countess of Marcilly (Paris, France), sold to M. Johnson, 1882.

1882 - about 1882

M. Johnson, probably sold to Edmond James de Rothschild, about 1882.

about 1882 - 1934

Baron Edmond James de Rothschild, Austrian, 1845 - 1934 (Paris, France; Boulogne-sur-Seine, France), by inheritance to Maurice (Edmond Charles) de Rothschild, 1934.

1934 - 1940

Baron Maurice (Edmond Charles) de Rothschild, Austrian, 1881 - 1957, looted by the Nazis, 1940.

about 1940 - 1945/1946

In the possession of the Nazis (Paris, France), restituted to Baron Maurice (Edmond Charles) de Rothschild, 1945/1946.

1945/1946 -

Baron Maurice (Edmond Charles) de Rothschild, Austrian, 1881 - 1957

- 1971

Private Collection (possibly still Rothschild) (Paris, France) [sold, Palais Galliera, Paris, November 25, 1971, lot 10, through French and Company, Inc. (New York, New York) to the J. Paul Getty Museum.]

Boucher in Focus (January 17 to April 18, 2004)
  • Kimbell Art Museum (Fort Worth), January 17 to April 18, 2004
Casanova: The Seduction of Europe (August 27, 2017 to October 9, 2018)
  • Kimbell Art Museum (Fort Worth), August 27 to December 31, 2017
  • The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, February 10 to May 28, 2018
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, July 8 to October 9, 2018

Palais Galliera, Paris. Importants tableaux et dessins de maîtres anciens. November 25, 1971, unpaginated, lot 10, ill., cover ill.

Ananoff, Alexandre, and Daniel Wildenstein. François Boucher. 2 vols. (Lausanne: La bibliothèque des arts, 1976), vol. 2, pp. 295-96, no. 671, fig. 1752.

Ananoff, Alexandre, and Daniel Wildenstein. L'opera completa di Boucher (Milan: Rizzoli, 1980), p. 141, no. 709, ill.

Bailey, Colin B., ed. The First Painters of the King: French Royal Taste from Louis XIV to the Revolution, exh. cat. (New York: Stair Sainty Matthiesen, 1985), p. 130, no. 41, ill.

Laing, Alastair, et al. François Boucher, 1703 -1770, exh. cat. (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1986), pp. 318-24, under nos. 84-85, entry by Alastair Laing.

Brunel, Georges. Boucher (Paris: Flammarion, 1986), p. 276.

Laing, Alastair, et al. François Boucher 1703-1770, exh. Cat. (Paris: Réunion des musées nationaux, 1986), pp. 321-27, under nos. 84-85, ill.

Pillsbury, William P., et al. In Pursuit of Quality: The Kimbell Art Museum; An Illustrated History of the Art and Architecture (Fort Worth: The Kimbell Art Museum, 1987), p. 246.

Bailey, Colin, et al. François Boucher: His Circle and Influence, exh. Cat. (New York: Stair Sainty Matthiesen, 1987), p. 80, under no. 50, entry by Alan P. Wintermute.

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 14, ill.

Joulie, Françoise. "Les sujets mythologiques." In François Boucher: hier et aujourd'hui, exh. cat. Françoise Joulie and Jean-François Méjanès, eds. (Paris: Réunion des Musées Nationaux, 2003), p. 117.

Yeide, Nancy H. Beyond the Dreams of Avarice: The Hermann Goering Collection (Dallas: Laurel Publishing, 2009), pp. 147, 360, no. A1003, ill.