William Broome: To a Lady of Thirty

NO more let youth its beauty boast,
S—n at thirty reigns a toast,
And, like the Sun as he declines,
More mildly, but more sweetly shines.

The hand of Time alone disarms
Her face of its superfluous charms:
But adds, for every grace resign’d,
A thousand to adorn her mind.

Youth was her too inflaming time;
This, her more habitable clime:
How must she then each heart engage,
Who blooms like youth, is wise in age!

Thus the rich orange-trees produce
At once both ornament, and use:
Here opening blossoms we behold,
There fragrant orbs of ripen’d gold.

Since Thomas Hudson was born 1701 and Matthew Prior died 1721, it is likely that this portrait shows the poet in the last years of his life. He was still in his fifties when he died.

When Jean-Baptiste van Loo painted Louis XV around 1727—the exact date is not known—the king was a teenager, officially an adult, crowned king and married to the eight year older Marie Leszczyńska, but the actual control of the kingdom was still in the hands of his chief minister, Cardinal de Fleury.

Jean-Baptiste van Loo was the grandson of Jacob van Loo, who fled from the Dutch Republic to France in 1660, and a sought-after portraitist in his time.

Jean Raoux was seven years older than Watteau. He became quite popular during the Régence and significantly helped develop a new “French style.” He worked for Philippe d’Orléans and Catherine of Russia, Voltaire compared him to Rembrandt. Later he became mostly forgotten until the Musée Fabre in his native Montpellier made a large exhibition of his works from November 2009 to April 2010.

This Diane au bain, sized 64×80cm, from about 1721, is located in that museum.

Father, dear father, you’ve done me great wrong
You have married me to a boy who is too young
I’m twice twelve and he is but fourteen
He’s young, but he’s daily growing.

Maria Leszczyńska might have sung this old Scottish ballad. When she was married to Louis XV in 1725, he was fifteen, and she was twenty-three. Nevertheless the marriage was happy for quite a while, it was eight years till the king took his first mistress.

This portrait was made in the year after the wedding by court painter François Albert Stiemart.

In 1720, François Lemoyne was the teacher of Boucher, but only for three months. Baigneuse (known in English as Woman Bathing or The Bather and her Maid), was painted after Lemoyne’s trip to Italy with François Berger in 1723/24.

This was probably one of the first Baigneuses, a bathing woman wnot based on a mythological or scripture motif. I haven’t found an older one yet. You can see a few more paintings by Lemoyne (and more baigneuses) on my tumblr.

There is a remarkable similarity between Sebastiano Ricci’s Bathsheba and Boucher’s Toilet of Venus. Boucher is forty-four years younger than Ricci, the two paintings are about twenty-five years apart.

For nearly a century, this is one of the last Bathshebas, at least by a major artist. The two topics: Bathsheba in her Bath and Susanna and the Elders, so popular during the previous two hundred years, died out in the 1720s, only to be revived with a vengeance after the Congress of Vienna.

In 1720, Antoine Watteau, who had been of frail health since childhood, travelled to London to consult Dr Richard Mead, one of the most fashionable physicians of his time and an admirer of Watteau’s work. However, London’s damp and smoky air offset any benefits of Dr. Mead’s wholesome food and medicines. Early in 1721 Watteau returned to France and spent his last few months on the estate of his patron, Abbé Haranger, where he died in July probably from tuberculosis before he reached the age of 37. The Abbé said Watteau was semi-conscious and mute during his final days, clutching a paint brush and painting imaginary paintings in the air.

It was during these last months of his life that Rosalba Carriera, who stayed in Paris in 1720/21, made this pastel portrait, the only one that has survived, or perhaps the only one ever made. Of an earlier self-portrait, we have only a crayon copy by François Boucher.

Europa was a Phoenician princess, daughter of Agenor and Telephassa. Zeus approached her in the shape of a white bull as she was playing on the beach with her friends. The girls decorated the beautiful and apparently tame animal with flowers, and finally Europa climbed on his back. Now the bull suddenly took to the sea and swam with her to Crete, where he assumed human shape. She bore him three sons, Minos, Rhadamanthus, and Sarpedon. Later, she married Asterios, the king of Crete, and he adopted her sons.

Europa is the patron goddess of this blog. You will see her a lot.

The Rape of Europa is one of the classical topics of European art, dating back to at least the 7th century BC. This image is a detail from a painting by Nöel-Nicolas Coypel, who lived from 1690 to 1734 and was quite popular in his time. Among his surviving paintings are a Bath of Diana and a Birth of Venus, so maybe he liked painting people in or near water.