Is it love or is it art?
Only François Boucher, that master of Rococo excess and dazzle, knew what his allegory of painting actually implied. It was meant to be matched with a companion painting, Cupids. Allegory of Poetry, for which I haven’t found a web based image.
Cupids came to have meaning in allegorical painting beyond the stories in Greek mythology from which we inherit our concept of Cupid as the arrow wielding son of Venus and messenger of love.
Here we see two cupids, one engaged in drawing, that most basic of the painter’s skills, apparently being advised, instructed or even criticized by the other. (Whatever you may say about Boucher, who many loathe, but I personally delight in; he was a masterful draftsman. More on Boucher in a future post.)
We also get a clear picture of an artist’s palette, presumably a representation of Boucher’s own, with its orderly arrangement of colors.
This painting is in the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, Russia. There is a link for a larger image to the right of that page, and a much larger version on the unofficial ArtHermitage.org site (full size image here).