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.
Boucher favored pastoral and mythological themes and painted Diana and Callisto on a number of occasions. As related by Ovid in his Metamorphoses, the God Jupiter (who is symbolically present in the form of an eagle) transformed himself into the goddess Diana (identified by the small crescent moon on her forehead) in order to seduce Diana’s maiden follower Callisto. Jupiter/Diana, here embracing the beautiful young blond nymph, left her with child. When Callisto gave birth to the boy Arcas, the angry goddess Juno transformed her into a she-bear. Jupiter, to protect them, later removed them to the heavens as neighboring constellations. Among other versions of the subject is a picture belonging to the Wallace Collection, London.
[Katharine Baetjer 2014]
Inscription: Signed (lower right): f. Bouch[er]
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 "Jupiter sous la figure de Diane . . . ," 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–d. 1897); 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. 457, as "Jupiter and Calisto"); Mr. and Mrs. Jack Linsky, New York (1957–his d. 1980); his widow, Mrs. Jack Linsky, New York (1980–82)
Paris. Salon. 1765, no. 8 (as "Jupiter transformé en Diane pour surprendre Calisto," lent by M. Bergeret de Grancourt).
Paris. Galerie Georges Petit. "L'art au XVIIIe siècle," December 15, 1883–January 1884, no. 6 (as "Diane et Vénus," lent by Sir Richard Wallace).
Detroit Institute of Arts. "French Paintings of the Eighteenth Century," December 2–20, 1926, no. 8 (as "Jupiter and Callisto," lent by Mrs. William Hayward).
New York. M. Knoedler & Co. "24 Masterpieces," November 4–23, 1946, no. 17 (as "Jupiter and Callisto," 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 "Jupiter and Callisto," 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, p. 77, no. 8] (McWilliam 1991, no. 0172), describes this picture and its pendant in disparaging terms; suggests that Boucher 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. 13, nos. 182, 194, list it as no. 182, "Jupiter et Calypso," the pendant to "Bacchus et Ariane" in the 1790 Marin sale, and as no. 194 "Jupiter transformé en Diane pour surprendre Calisto" lent by M. Bergeret de Grandcourt to the Salon of 1765, and in the collection of M. Leroy in 1780
André Michel. François Boucher. Paris, , pp. 76, 125.
Georges Pannier in Pierre de Nolhac. François Boucher, premier peintre du roi, 1703–1770. Paris, 1907, pp. 116–17, 125, lists it as "Jupiter sous la figure de Diane veut séduire Calisto" no. 335 in the 1790 Marin sale, and as "Jupiter et Calisto," the pendant to "Vénus 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, 188, 252–53, recognize the picture and its pendant in a watercolor view of the Salon of 1765 by Gabriel de Saint-Aubin (Cabinet des Dessins, Musée du Louvre, Paris).
Denys Sutton. France in the Eighteenth Century. Exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts. London, 1968, p. 50, relates it to an undated Boucher grisaille of "Jupiter and Callisto," rectangular but similar in composition.
Wallace Collection Catalogues: Pictures and Drawings. 16th ed. London, 1968, p. 37.
Regina Shoolman Slatkin. François Boucher in North American Collections: 100 Drawings. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art. Washington, 1973, p. 60.
Alexandre Ananoff with the collaboration of Daniel Wildenstein. François Boucher. Lausanne, 1976, vol. 1, pp. 108–9, 111; vol. 2, pp. 228–30, no. 576, fig. 1557, transcribe contemporary documentation.
Jean Seznec and Jean Adhémar, ed. Salons. By Denis Diderot. Vol. 2, 1765. 2nd ed. Oxford, 1979, pp. 19–20, 77, identifies it with a variant exhibited in 1968 at the Royal Academy.
Alexandre Ananoff with the collaboration of Daniel Wildenstein. L'opera completa di Boucher. Milan, 1980, p. 134, no. 607, ill.
Else Marie Bukdahl. Diderot: Critique d'art. Vol. 1, Théorie et pratique dans les Salons de Diderot. Copenhagen, 1980, pp. 56, 260 n. 18.
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. 120–24, no. 46, 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].
Melissa Hyde. Making Up the Rococo: François Boucher and His Critics. Los Angeles, 2006, pp. 204–5, 207, 211, 216–17, fig. 51, discusses the gender ambiguity in Boucher's paintings of Jupiter and Callisto.
This painting and Angelica and Medoro (1982.60.46), dated 1763, were lent by Bergeret de Grancourt at Boucher's request to the Salon of 1765. Ananoff (1976, vol. 2, p. 229, fig. 1558) reproduces a drawing by Gabriel de Saint-Aubin in which, curiously, the artist twice represents the Jupiter installed at the Salon. There are many canvases by Boucher of the subject. One was exhibited at the Salon of 1761. Another, in the Wallace Collection, London, is signed and dated 1769, and may be the source for the Gobelins tapestry woven in 1776–78. A third, also of 1769, is recorded, and a fourth, usually dated in the 1760s, is in the North Carolina Museum of Art at Raleigh. A grisaille, last exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1968, may be a first sketch. Others remain to be accounted for. All of these, except for the sketch, are in reverse, and none seems to have had a pendant.