25 May 1999
Louis de Boullogne II (1654-1733)
Zephyr crowning Flora
signed and dated 'Boullogne Jeune 1702'
oil on canvas
26.5/8 x 22in. (67.5 x 56cm.)
Madame Falsan (ne Watronville), by whom bequeathed to
Frdric Andr, by descent through
Caroline Chaper to her son-in-law
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E. Standen, Ovid's Metamorphoses: A Gobelins Tapestry Series in The Metropolitan Museum Journal, XXIII, 1988, p. 171, fig. 31.
Paris, Salon, 1704.
Paris, Galerie Cailleux, Les tapes de la Cration, June 12-July 13, 1989, no. 1.
In 1701 Louis de Boullogne received a royal commission to paint Flora and Zephyr as part of the grand redecoration of Franois I's gallery at Fontainebleau. His large composition, which includes additional putti in the landscape, is still at Fontainebleau and is also recorded in a preparatory drawing now in the Muse du Louvre, Paris (Inv. no. 24962). However, the horizontal format of the painting did not fit comfortably into the scheme, and so Louis de Boullogne created a vertical variant in 1702 for which the present composition may be a modello. It was from this new composition that Duquoy made a cartoon, which was used in the production of a series of tapestries illustrating scenes from Ovid's Metamorphoses. Work on the tapestries was started in 1717 under LeBlond and completed in January 1720.
Flora was the ancient goddess of flowers, who followed in the footsteps of Zephyr, the west wind of springtime, decorating the way with flowers; their story is told by Lucretius (5:736-9) and Ovid (Fasti 5: 193-214). In Boullogne's painting, Zephyr is an ephebe who decends on butterfly wings to crown the goddess with a wreath of blossoms; assisted by two amorini, she unfurls garlands of spring flowers.
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