The Wallace Collection

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The Sleep of Venus (Le sommeil de Vénus)
  • Marie-Françoise-Constance Mayer (1775 - 1821)
  • The Sleep of Venus (Le sommeil de Vénus)
  • France
  • 1806
  • Painting
  • Oil on canvas
  • Image size: 96.5 x 144.5 cm
    Object size: 125.5 x 173 x 14 cm
  • P348
  • West Gallery III
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Prud’hon provided the initial ideas for the composition and for its pendant, 'Le flambeau de Vénus (The Torch of Venus)' (1808; Arenenberg). Oil sketches by Prud'hon at the Musée Condé in Chantilly is closest to Mayer's paintings. A finished drawing for P348 by Prud'hon is in the Louvre. Mayer exhibited the painting at the Salon of 1806 and then again - together with its pendant - again in 1808. Both pictures were acquired by the Empress Joséphine and hung in her gallery at Malmaison until her death in 1814.

    Mayer’s manner follows Prud'hon's use of atmospheric sfumato and takes the style and subject of Correggio and the iconography of Francesco Albani as a model. The period around 1800 strongly venerated Correggio's smooth and elegant style as the perfect union of colour and drawing. The subject of the painting is highly unusual.