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The Triumph of Love Over All the Gods

Gabriel Jacques de Saint-Aubin

(1724 - 1780) | 975.4.154

Date : 1752 | Medium : Oil on canvas

This ceiling painting The Triumph of Love was painted by Saint-Aubin for the Prix de Rome competition (1752), which he failed to win. It is a triumph of humour as Love, seated on a throne of light, receives trophies from the gods it has subjugated: a thunderbolt from Jupiter, a chariot from Venus, a thyrsus from Bacchus, a lyre from Apollo, a quiver from Diane, a fleece from Hercules, a caduceus from Mercury, a sword from Mars, etc. But these symbols are depicted in a novel way, with the shield of Mars pierced by arrows, the swans of Venus in a state of infatuation, and so on. A revolving garland of cherubs comes together to stretch up to the heavens, bringing a particular dynamic to the work. The artist is in competition with his contemporary Boucher, a painter of childhood love and great cosmic turmoil, and with Lemoine's Apotheosis of Hercules at Versailles with its Olympian theme and virtuosity of perspective.