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March 18, 2011

Historical Passion Party!


The Houston Museum of Fine Arts is hosting an exhibition straight from the Louvre titled Antiquity Revived: Neoclassical Art in the Eighteenth Century. The exhibition opened March 20 and is on through May 30, 2011.

Featuring over 150 pieces of art, the show attempts to display the inspiration of the classical world on 18th century artists. The exhibition outlines the historical influences on neoclassic art as well as the imagination and sensibilities (or lack of) of the 18th century artist!


Vien, Joseph-Marie Vien, Girl Selling Cupids (or Cupid Seller). 1763, oil on canvas. Château de Fontainebleau.

Of the works in this show, I wanted to share this painting by Joseph Marie Vien, who was head of the Académie Royale in Rome. Vien's painting is set in a large room which is decorated with pilasters along the wall and a large Grecian urn as a centerpiece. A table sits against the wall with a rose silk cloth draped over it, holding a vase of spring flowers and a golden decorative box. The room smells of warm and spicy incense, which we can see burns in a large incense burner just behind the vase.

Three figures are profiled in this work, and a beautiful aristocrat woman sits in the center on a golden chair. Her companion stands behind her and both women are giving their full attention to the young girl who sits on the floor with a basket of cupids. She selects a cupid with blue wings and holds it up by he wings for the lady to see.

In the image the girl appears to be mid-sentence, explaining something about the little item to the women. The cupid extends an arm, in a suggestive gesture. The woman in peach and green tugs at her skirt. What we have here is a passion party! Complete with sex toys. A perfect example of a classically inspired work with a bit of 18th century touch.

If you are interested in the exhibition but can't make it, the catalog is available now for 45

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