January 24, 2010

Art of the Day

Juno Asking Aeolus to Release the Winds
(François Boucher)

As told by the Roman author Virgil in the first book of The Aeneid, the goddess Juno, consumed by jealousy toward Venus, schemed to prevent the fleet of her rival’s son, Aeneas, from reaching shore and founding a Trojan colony in Italy. In Boucher’s faithful depiction of this myth, Juno visits Aeolus, keeper of the winds, and urges him to unleash their fury, thus provoking a violent storm that would destroy Aeneas’s fleet. As enticement, Juno offers Aeolus her most beautiful nymph, Deiopea, in marriage. She aims the torch directly at his heart as love-struck Aeolus releases the winds, while a cupid unsheathes an arrow to target the compliant nymph, her wrists bound with pearls. The presence of an alluring sea nymph reclining in the foreground signals the outcome: mighty Neptune, god of the sea, will prevail over the winds, and calm the insurgent waters.


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