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Simon Vouet and studio: 'Ceres and Harvesting Cupids'
This painting is probably one of three carried out in or about 1634 for a small room in the Paris house of Claude de Bullion (1570 - 1640), the Superintendent of Finances to the Crown. In March of that year Vouet undertook to paint a series of canvases for the gallery of the house and other decorations for the adjoining rooms. Three paintings by him were later described as a Hunt, a Wine Harvest, and a Ceres with Cupids. The last may be the National Gallery painting. Neither of the others is known to survive.

This painting is noteworthy for the freedom with which it has been executed. It is designed as a landscape in a way developed in Rome in the early 17th century, with trees to each side framing a distant prospect in the centre. The naked figure of Ceres, goddess of the earth's fertility, is typical of the figures produced by Vouet and his studio. She sits to the right wearing a crown of cornstalks and observing the harvesters in the distance.

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