Mars and Venus, Allegory of Peace 1770 by Louis-Jean-François Lagrenée
In this gentle allegory of peace by Louis Jean François Lagrenée, Mars, the Roman god of War, throws back the rich green bed curtains that frame the scene. As the drapery parts, the morning light spills in to reveal the form of the sleeping Venus, the Roman goddess of love. Mars gazes at her, utterly captivated by her beauty. Her love has tempered his fierce character, and his shield and sword lie abandoned on the floor. Echoing the lovers' bliss, a pair of white doves, symbolizing Peace, build a nest in Mars's helmet.
Lagrenée created his finest works, including this small, jewel-like painting, around 1770. The lavish folds of drapery, the delicate play of light over fabric and skin, and the rich, restrained palette combine to create a captivatingly beautiful image.