Samuel MASSÉ (Tours 1672-1753 Paris) Vertumnus and Pomona
Oil on canvas, 86 x 120 cm. (2 ft. 9 7/8 in. x 3 ft. 11 ¼ in.)
In a Louis XIV frame
Private Collection, Paris until December 2018
Samuel Massé’s oeuvre had been totally forgotten since the 18th century and was only recently rediscovered. His work was mainly influenced by Noel and Noel-Nicolas Coypel. Student at the Royal Academy between 1690 and 1698, Massé was approved for admission in 1701, the year he became father-in-law to Charles Perrault, the famous architect of the Louvre colonnade. He was received as a history painter in 1705. In 1725, Massé figured in the exhibitions of young artists where he presented two subjets of Cupid and Psyche. Subsequently, he had the honor of participating in 1727 in the famous competition between the twelve best history painters in the Royal Academy, where he presented Juno Ordering Aeolus to Destroy Aeaneas’ Flotilla (Nancy, Museum of Fine Arts.) A participant in the Academy’s Salons from 1737 to 1745, Massé preferred to illustrate mythological scenes rather than Biblical or Church History.
Samuel Massé’s paintings are rare. Twenty-seven have been identified by Patrice Marendet, of which six are conserved in museums or churches, a pair is in Warsaw, another at the Museum of Fine Arts in Bordeaux, one in the Museum of Fine Arts, Caen, another in the Museum of Fine Arts, Nancy, and one in the Church of Toury (Eure-and-Loire).
This artist, who is one of the least known of his generation, is nonetheless one of its best. His oeuvre is dominated by themes of seduction and episodes celebrating loves of the gods.