Celebrating Valentine’s Day with François Boucher

Erato The Muse Of Love Poetry by François Boucher

I am celebrating Valentine’s Day with François Boucher, a French painter, known for his idyllic and voluptuous paintings.  He lived in the flamboyant Rococo age renowned for its highly ornamental style of decoration.  Gilding, white and pastel colours, sculpted molding and scrolling curves come together in a theatrical crescendo.  Many believe that François Boucher was the most illustrious painter and decorative artist of the 18th century.

The word opulent comes to mind when I view his painting, “Erato The Muse of Love Poetry.”

Erato, in Greek Mythology, is the Muse of love poetry.  In this gentle pose of dictating words of poetry, she becomes the quintessential symbol for Valentine’s Day.

The ancients enshrined her in their literature: Hesiod named her as a Muse in his poem, Theogony, which was written to record the genealogy and birth of the gods. The lost poem, Rhadine, suggests that Erato’s tomb is on the island of Samos. The ancient geographer, Pausanias, notes that Samos is the place where star-crossed lovers go on pilgrimage to pray for a happy ending to love that has been lost by some misfortune.

One painting – many stories, which is what Valentine’s Day signify.

Love, poetry, art comes together to remind us that we are the story of today.  Our lives have meaning because we have experienced the emotional spectrum of love. As George Sand once wrote, “There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved.”

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

31 Comments

  1. Resa

    Love this perfect post for Valentine’s Day. I’ve seen pics of this piece of art before, but your information enriches the experience. It must be exhilarating to see it in person. Thank you, Rebecca!

    1. Clanmother

      That would be amazing! Francois had a way of drawing us into his world. I especially like his painting, “The Secret Message,” where a young women, (in an amazing dress that looks like one of your creations) takes delight in reading a message. She is situated in a lush garden, with a bird perched nearby on a ledge. What is in the message? Will is always be secret? Alas….yes.

    1. Clanmother

      So glad that you joined the celebration. Francois Boucher was larger than life. The French naturalism writers, Edmond and Jules de Goncourt said “Boucher is one of those men who represent the taste of a century, who express, personify and embody it.” Who better to celebrate Valentine’s Day? Your visits and comments are very much appreciated. Sending hugs.

    1. Clanmother

      Hello coming from sunny Vancouver! You gave me an amazing Valentine’s Day present – FutureLearn, Glasgow University – Robert Burns: Poems, Songs and Legacy. If anyone know how to celebrate Valentine’s Day, it would be Robert Burns. Thank you so much!

      “O my Luve is like a red, red rose
      That’s newly spring in June;
      O my Luve is like the melody
      That’s sweetly played in tune.”
      Robert Burns

  2. Ms Frances

    What a great Valentine conversation above. I like all the conversations. I am fond of the painting, as well. I am glad the artist included musical instruments as one of his descriptive choices. An extraordinary painting and your comments are so fitting.

    1. Clanmother

      Thank you for your heartwarming comments. Boucher had an amazing life: 1703- 1770. He lived in the time of opulence where there was time and resources for the arts. He was born the son of a lesser known painter Nicolas Boucher, but came to be the Premier Peintre du Roi (First Painter of the King). His patron was none other than the famous Madame de Pompadour. Jacques-Louis David began his painting instruction under Boucher. I will be returning to learn more about the history of this time. Many stories are kept safe within the brushstrokes of a painting.

    1. Clanmother

      Thank you Elisabeth for your kind comments. Love is difficult to define, because there are many ways to express this emotion, given our unique personal histories and experiences. What I do know is there is a spectrum of love that we encounter at different times in our lives. Love is an intense emotion, a basic human need. It is no wonder that artists, writers, poets and musician have given us a way to understand our responses. I especially like a quote by Leo Tolstoy that speaks of love, grief and healing: “Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them.” Thank you for joining the celebration! Hugs!

      1. elisabethm

        You have described love so eloquently and true. We all (show) love in different ways. And that quote by Tolstoy… such wisdom! And comforting. I think that Russian writers are particularly good at that, they continually tell us that life can be difficult, people die, we suffer, but always there is life and laughter again.

      2. Clanmother

        I have learned so much from following your blog. Yes, comforting is the word to describe the indescribable. To know that we are not alone, that we are loved, and that we can give love in return – that brings joy and laughter to our existence. Many hugs!

    1. Clanmother

      How very very well said, Gallivanta. I was reading about the evolution of love through history. We define “love” through the lens of our time, but in the end it is about the actions of care and compassion that remain within the story of humanity. Not only to ourselves, family, and friends, but to all who share our world. As Anatole France said without reservation: “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” Thanks for being my Valentine!

  3. ernstblumenstein

    A beautiful and informative story about the painter F. Boucher, who painted lush pictures in Rococo style and I did not know until now. A very fitting and interesting contribution to Valentine’s Day, thank you Rebecca.

  4. Annika Perry

    A perfect post for Valentine, Rebecca! ❤️ Wonderfully informative and fascinating to learn about Boucher and Erato. I love the quote at the end … and think how desperately sad it is for those not loved or able to love.

    1. Clanmother

      I agree wholeheartedly, Annika. The definition of love is broad, and ever changing throughout history. Compassion, care, concern, kindliness, altruism, tenderness, warmth – all these words have unique characteristics but they don’t fully or adequately define that intense feeling or profound need to be connected, validated, engaged. I believe that storytelling is at the heart of “love.” My story, your story, a community’s story all blend together, gaining power and resilience to seek remarkable outcomes for a world that needs healing. I am so glad that we connected!

    1. Clanmother

      I am delighted that you joined the Valentine’s Day Celebration. We live in a world that is perilously divided but I have great hope that with every act of kindness, we ignite the spirit of compassion in ourselves and our communities both local and global. Sending hugs to you and Carina!

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