Lot 361
  • 361

François Boucher

300,000 - 500,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • François Boucher
  • An allegory of poetry
  • oil on circular canvas


Jacques Doucet, Paris, until 1912;
His sale, Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, 6 June 1912, lot 133;
Baroness Valentine Springer (nee Rothschild), Vienna;
Sold forcibly to the Gemäldegalerie des Kunsthistorischen Museums, Vienna (inv. 6998) and restituted on November 26 1947;
With Galerie Segoura, Paris;
From whom purchased by the present collectors. 


S. Lillie, Was Einmal War, Czernin Verlag, Vienna 2003, page 1242.

Catalogue Note

Both this and the following lot are endearing examples of the small scale and brightly lit allegorical pictures which were created by Boucher to decorate the homes, and more specifically, overdoors within the intricately carved boiserie paneling that was installed in many mid-18th century Parisian hôtels. Boucher often employed similar allegorical yet light hearted themes for such multi-paneled projects, as they brought a visual cohesiveness to the physical spaces which they occupied. 

This composition derives from a three-figure composition, also an Allegory of Poetry, sold in the Mentmore sale, Sotheby Parke Bernet, on 25 May 1977, lot 2443. A variant of that picture, generally ascribed to Boucher and Studio (signed and dated 1753), is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (acc. no. 69.155.2). In the present picture, as in the Mentmore version, the central infant Apollo holds a lyre, a traditional symbol of lyric poetry, as he crowns the infant Cupid with a laurel wreath; beside Cupid is a pair of doves. Furthermore, as in the Mentmore version, Cupid writes the following in his scroll:

Qu'il triomphe & regne à jamais / Entre les beaux Arts & la Glorie. / Elevons ce Heros du char de la Victoire / Au Trône de la Paix

We are grateful to Alastair Laing for his assistance in the cataloguing of this lot.