The Triumph of Eros explores the rich collections of fine and decorative arts from the State Hermitage Museum by focusing upon themes of love, eroticism and seduction in the visual culture of the Rococo era. The title derives from the extraordinary resurgence of interest in the figure of Eros, or Cupid, in the art of the period. At the centre of the exhibition will be one of the masterpieces of the Hermitage, Falconet’s marble sculpture Menacing Cupid. In the age of the Enlightenment Cupid was often figured in art as a disruptive presence, his darts of desire threatening the period’s prevailing cultural values of rationalism and reason. For many artists Cupid and his associated theme of unbridled passion offered a challenge to the rule of the intellect in the affairs of mankind. The exhibition explores this idea through a range of material, intended for both private and public consumption, from paintings and sculpture to fine examples of Sevres porcelain. In doing so it encompasses questions of taste and decorum by showing the variety of ways in which artists tested the boundaries of eroticism. Crucial in this regard is the display of a recently discovered group of erotic engravings by artists such as Fragonard and Boucher, which once formed part of the private collection of Tsar Nicholas I. These works will be exhibited here for the first time outside the Hermitage.

The exhibition will be organised around a number of central themes begin

ing with representations of Cupid himself. Other sections look at the prevalent subject of boudoir ‘portraits’ of women contemplating feelings of love and desire, images of secret liasons and erotic encounters, most notably Boucher’s Pastoral Scene and Watteau’s Capricious Girl. The exhibition will show how such subject matter offered new opportunites for artistic creativity, inventiveness and freedom which characterised the Rococo period.

DR SATISH PADIYAR

Francois Boucher, Pastoral Scene,1730s, State Hermitage Museum

The Hermitage Rooms

We acknowledge with grateful thanks the on-going support for the Hermitage Rooms of the Edmond J. Safra Philanthropic Foundation, The Deborah Loeb Brice Foundation and the Founding and Honorary Members of the Walpole Circle:

Mr Len Blavatnik,
Access Industries (UK)
Mrs Abigail Bowers
William Browder
Hermitage Capital Management
The Marquess of Cholmondeley
His Grace the Duke of Devonshire
The Marchioness of Douro
Dame Vivien Duffield DBE
Nicholas and Jane Ferguson
Rocco Forte Hotels
Lord Hindlip
Georges C Karlweis
Professor and Mrs Nasser D Khalili
Mrs Marie-Josée Kravis
Lord Moser KCB, CBE, FBA
Ms N Parker
Simon Robertson
Mr & Mrs S N Roditi
Lord Rothschild OM GBE FBA
William and Olga Shawcross
Peter Simon
Mr John Studzinski
Mrs Charles Wrightsman
and others who wish to remain anonymous.

We would like to extend special thanks to Lord Rothschild for his particular contribution to the Hermitage Rooms.