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.”