Vulcan’s Forge or Vulcan Presenting Venus with Arms for Aeneas

François Boucher (1703-1770)
Paris, 1756
Oil on canvas, grisaille sketch, carved and re-gilt oak frame, c. 1730-1740
Bequest of Emilie Yznaga, Duchess of Manchester, 1949
Inv. 36231

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This grisaille painting is typical of the Rococo taste for seemingly spontaneous works. Sketches such as this, reflecting the artist’s powers of invention, were collected in their own right despite often being tools in the creative process. This sketch by François Boucher laid the groundwork for the composition of a tapestry cartoon for the Loves of the Gods series (woven in 1757) or for a large religious painting for the high altar of the church of Saint-Louis in Versailles. Some of the sketches, such as Psyche and Cupid, were not intended to be transcribed in color and were freer to be independent works of art.