In 1765, two years after these pictures were painted, they were presented at the Paris Salon as a loan from the fermier général Bergeret de Grancourt and titled Jupiter transformé en Diane pour surprendre Calisto and Angélique & Médor. Both are signed and one is dated. They share a distinguished history, having belonged also to Sir Richard Wallace. It is evident that the paintings were planned as a pair and they are complementary, in the opposing gestures of Diana and Medoro, in the repetition of the leopard skins and quivers of arrows and of the putti with firebrands, and in the arrangement of the sheltering trunks and branches of the trees in the background. Complex, elaborate compositions of the kind must have come naturally to Boucher, the sixty year old king’s painter and director of the Académie Royale.
The subject of the second work would not come so readily to the fore were it not for the fact that the identification with the mythologies shown in the 1765 Salon seems so certain: the sizes are very close to the dimensions published in the list of Salon exhibits, the shapes are oval, and the stretchers are similarly stamped with the name of their maker. Critics related that at the time Boucher had been too ill to paint on a grand scale and this would further explain his having shown canvases that were not absolutely contemporary in date. The story of Angelica and Medoro is taken from the epic narrative Orlando Furioso by the sixteenth-century Italian poet Ludovico Ariosto. Angelica was the pagan daughter of the king of Cathay. She abandoned the Christian knight Orlando who is the hero of the tale for a Moorish soldier, Medoro, when Cupid wounded her with a dart. The couple stayed together in a herdsman’s hut and everywhere they went, indoors and out, Angelica carved their names.
[Katharine Baetjer 2014]
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower left): f. Boucher / 1763
Monsieur Bergeret de Grancourt (in 1765); Calonne Angelot (until 1789; his anonymous sale, Lebrun, Paris, May 11, 1789, no. 101, sold with its pendant: "Deux sujets agréables . . . L'un représentant Jupiter sous la figure de Danae pour tromper Calysto. L'autre les Amours de Bacchus et d'Ariane . . .", for 405 livres); Monsieur Marin (until 1790; his estate sale, Lebrun, jeune, & Saubert, Paris, March 22, 1790, no. 335, as "Les Amours de Bacchus et d'Ariane," sold with its pendant for 414 livres to Geoffrey); Pierre Claude Prousteau de Montlouis (until d. 1851; his estate sale, Bonnefons de Lavialle et al., Hôtel des Ventes, Paris, May 5–6, 1851, no. 11, "Diane et Calisto; Vénus et Adonis . . . de forme ovale et dans leurs bordures du temps," for Fr 3,250); probably Richard Seymour-Conway, 4th Marquess of Hertford, Paris (until d. 1870); his natural son and heir, Sir Richard Wallace, Paris (probably from 1870, but by at least 1883–d. 1890); his widow, Amélie Julie Charlotte, Lady Wallace, Paris (1890–97); their heir, Sir John Arthur Murray Scott, Paris (1897–1912; inv., 1912/13, bequeathed to Lady Sackville); Victoria, Lady Sackville (1912/13–1913/14; sold to Seligmann); [Jacques Seligmann, Paris, 1913/14; sold for Fr 350,000 to Knoedler]; [Knoedler, New York, 1914–17; sold for $150,000 to Plant]; Mr. and Mrs. Morton F. Plant, New York (1917–his d. 1918); Mrs. Morton F. Plant, later Mrs. William Hayward, still later Mrs. John E. Rovensky, New York (1918–d. 1956; her estate sale, Parke-Bernet, New York, January 16, 1957, no. 458, as "Angelique and Medor"); Mr. and Mrs. Jack Linsky, New York (1957–his d. 1980); his widow, Mrs. Jack Linsky, New York (1980–82)
Paris. Salon. 1765, no. 9 (as "Angélique et Médor" lent by M. Bergeret de Grancourt).
Paris. Galerie Georges Petit. "L'art au XVIIIe siècle," December 15, 1883–January 1884, no. 5 (as "Vénus et Adonis," lent by Sir Richard Wallace).
Detroit Institute of Arts. "French Paintings of the Eighteenth Century," December 2–20, 1926, no. 9 (as "Angélique and Medor," lent by Mrs. William Hayward).
New York. M. Knoedler & Co. "24 Masterpieces," November 4–23, 1946, no. 18 (as "Angelic and Medor," lent by Mrs. William Hayward).
Washington. National Gallery of Art. "François Boucher in North American Collections: 100 Drawings," December 23, 1973–March 17, 1974 (in unnumbered supplement, as "Angélique and Médor," lent anonymously).
THIS WORK MAY NOT BE LENT, BY TERMS OF ITS ACQUISITION BY THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART.
Denis Diderot. Salon de 1765. Paris, 1765 [published in Ref. Seznec and Adhémar 1960, pp. 77–78, no. 9] (McWilliam 1991, no. 0172), describes this picture and its pendant in disparaging terms; claims that in his "Angelica and Medoro," Boucher has sacrificed truth to his subject to voluptuousness; suggests that the artist could learn from Lagrenée, stressing the latter's greater mastery of anatomy; finds Boucher's figures unconvincing and repetitive.
Paul Mantz. François Boucher, Lemoyne et Natoire. Paris, 1880, pp. 151–53.
André Michel. F. Boucher. Paris, 1886, p. 122.
L. Soullié in collaboration with Charles Masson in André Michel. Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint et dessiné de François Boucher. Paris, , p. 7, no. 75, p. 13, no. 182, list it twice: as no. 75, "Angélique et Médor" lent by Bergeret de Grandcourt to the Salon of 1765; and as no. 182, "Bacchus et Ariane," the pendant to "Jupiter et Calypso" in the catalogue of the 1790 Marin sale
André Michel. François Boucher. Paris, , p. 125.
Georges Pannier in Pierre de Nolhac. François Boucher, premier peintre du roi, 1703–1770. Paris, 1907, pp. 111, 125, lists it as "Bacchus et Ariane" no. 335 in the 1790 Marin sale, and as "Venus et Adonis" no. 11 in the 1851 Prousteau de Montlouis sale, sold with its pendant for Fr 3,250.
Pierre de Nolhac. François Boucher, premier peintre du roi, 1703–1770. Paris, 1907, p. 93.
Haldane Macfall. Boucher: The Man, His Times, His Art, and His Significance, 1703–1770. London, 1908, p. 71.
Jean Seznec and Jean Adhémar, ed. Salons. By Denis Diderot. Vol. 2, 1765. Oxford, 1960, pp. 19–20, 77–78, 188, 252–253, recognize the picture and its pendant in a watercolor view of the Salon of 1765 by Gabriel de Saint-Aubin (Cabinet des dessins, Louvre, Paris)
Denys Sutton. France in the Eighteenth Century. Exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts. London, 1968, p. 50.
Wallace Collection Catalogues: Pictures and Drawings. 16th ed. London, 1968, p. 37.
Alexandre Ananoff with the collaboration of Daniel Wildenstein. François Boucher. Lausanne, 1976, vol. 1, pp. 108–9, 111; vol. 2, pp. 228–29, no. 575, fig. 1553, note that the subject has often been erroneously identified as either Venus and Adonis or Bacchus and Ariadne; transcribe contemporary documentation; reproduce an analoguous drawing, "Femme assise," from the sale of Madame D . . ., April 27, 1932, no. 32.
Rensselaer W. Lee. Names on Trees: Ariosto into Art. Princeton, 1977, pp. 57–58, 108 n. 124, fig. 38, questions the usual identification of the subject, remarking that the work is "iconographically impure and might best be called a conflation or perhaps a potpourri of Ariosto and Ovid"; observes that the initials carved on the tree might also be read as V/A, for Venus and Adonis.
Jean Seznec and Jean Adhémar, ed. Salons. By Denis Diderot. Vol. 2, 1765. 2nd ed. Oxford, 1979, pp. 19–20, 77–78, 187–88.
Alexandre Ananoff with the collaboration of Daniel Wildenstein. L'opera completa di Boucher. Milan, 1980, p. 134, no. 606, ill.
Else Marie Bukdahl. Diderot: Critique d'art. Vol. 1, Théorie et pratique dans les Salons de Diderot. Copenhagen, 1980, pp. 55, 259 n. 17, fig. 4.
Georges Brunel inDiderot & l'art de Boucher à David, les Salons: 1759–1781. Exh. cat., Hôtel de la Monnaie. Paris, 1984, p. 103.
Katharine Baetjer inThe Jack and Belle Linsky Collection in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1984, pp. 121–25, no. 47, ill. (color).
Alastair Laing inFrançois Boucher, 1703–1770. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1986, p. 34 [French ed., 1986, p. 41].
Laurence Marie. "La scène de genre dans les 'Salons' de Diderot." Labyrinthe 3, no. 3 (1999), pp. 8, 12 (http://labyrinthe.revues.org/64).
René Démoris. "Boucher, Diderot, Rousseau." Rethinking Boucher. Ed. Melissa Hyde and Mark Ledbury. Los Angeles, 2006, pp. 209–10, 223 n. 59, colorpl. 14, as an indication of Diderot's uneasiness before the female nude reports his 1765 Salon commentary for this picture.
Béatrice Didier. "Le dialogue des arts dans les Salons de Diderot." Revue Silène: Centre de recherches en littérature et poétique comparées de Paris Ouest-Nanterre-La Défense (October 27, 2008), p. 5 (http://revue-silene.com/f/index.php?sp=liv&livre_id=119).