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    Curated: Eustache Le Sueur’s Sleeping Venus

    (second line of Title) In the permanent collection, Gallery 6, at the Legion of Honor

    The mythological union of Vulcan, ancient god of fire, and Venus, goddess of love, serves here as a pretext for Le Sueur’s primary artistic interest: the female nude.

    Skillfully composed with a highly decorative palette of warm red, rich blue and cold white, a sense of drama is created by emphasizing the languorous, erotic form of the sleeping goddess in contrast with the conspiratorial figure of Cupid, and Vulcan, who is seen working at his forge in the background.

    The pose of Venus derives from an antique sculpture, Sleeping Ariadne (Vatican, Pio-Clementine Museum), also repeated in paintings by Titian and Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. This celebrated composition has been copied and engraved a number of times.

    About the Artist

    Praised as the “French Raphael,” Eustache Le Sueur (1616–1655) was apprenticed as a boy to Simon Vouet, the most influential artist of his era. His training exposed him to the art of antiquity and Italian painting, as well as to the refined taste of the cultural leaders of seventeenth-century Paris.

    Combining the talents of an inspired decorative painter with the spirituality of a religious one, Le Seuer’s works are imbued with a rare classical grace and harmony.