Teasing ankle boots

In the shade of a clearing, the goddess Diana unlaces her boots and rests after hunting in the company of three nymphs. She lays down her weapons, clothes and game.

The figure of Diana epitomises all the feminine features prized under the reign of Louis XV, a milky complexion, slender face and generous, curvaceous body. She exposes her nudity in a natural, elegant pose.

The supple bodies of her companions give the scene a subtle eroticism. The mythological fable is a pretext for showing graceful female nudes in the style of Watteau.

The crossing of the legs meets an exchange of glances. The foot is the focal point of the scene. In the 18th century, it was a primary fantasy object that often appeared in both the fine arts and libertine literature.

François Boucher has portrayed the attributes of the hunter goddess in a natural style; the quiver and game are carefully brushed. This piece of bravura can be compared with the still lifes of the artist's contemporary, the famous animal painter, Jean-Baptiste Oudry.

The scene shown here precedes a famous episode in Diana's legend during which the young hunter, Actaeon, surprises the goddess while she is washing. To punish him for his voyeurism, she turns him into a stag and he is devoured by her dogs.