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François Boucher

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François Boucher

François Boucher
Portrait of François Boucher by Gustaf Lundberg (1741)
Born (1703-09-29)29 September 1703
Paris, Kingdom of France
Died 30 May 1770(1770-05-30) (aged 66)
Paris, Kingdom of France
Nationality  French
Known for Painting
Movement Rococo

François Boucher (French pronunciation: ​) (29 September 1703 – 30 May 1770) was a French painter in the Rococo style. Boucher is known for his idyllic and voluptuous paintings on classical themes, decorative allegories, and pastoral scenes. He was perhaps the most celebrated painter and decorative artist of the 18th century. He also painted several portraits of his patroness, Madame de Pompadour.


Portrait of Marie-Jeanne Buzeau (1716-1796) by Alexander Roslin. Boucher married Buzeau in 1733 and they had three children together.
François Boucher, Portrait of Marie-Louise O'Murphy c. 1752, oil on canvas, 59 x 73 cm., (23.23 × 28.74 in), Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Cologne
Breakfast, 1739

A native of Paris, Boucher was the son of a minor painter Nicolas Boucher, who gave him his first artistic training. At the age of seventeen, a painting by Boucher was admired by the painter François Lemoyne. Lemoyne later appointed Boucher as his apprentice, but after only three months, he went to work for the engraver Jean-François Cars.[1] In 1720, he won the elite Grand Prix de Rome for painting, but did not take up the consequential opportunity to study in Italy until five years later, due to financial problems at the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture.[1] On his return from studying in Italy he was admitted to the refounded Académie de peinture et de sculpture on 24 November 1731.[2] His morceau du reception (reception piece) was his Rinaldo and Armida of 1734.[2]

Boucher became a faculty member in 1734 and his career accelerated from this point as he was promoted Professor then Rector of the Academy, becoming head of the Royal Gobelins Manufactory in 1755 and finally Premier Peintre du Roi (First Painter of the King) in 1765.

Boucher died on 30 May 1770 in his native Paris. His name, along with that of his patron Madame de Pompadour, had become synonymous with the French Rococo style, leading the Goncourt brothers to write: "Boucher is one of those men who represent the taste of a century, who express, personify and embody it."

Boucher is famous for saying that nature is "trop verte et mal éclairée" (too green and badly lit).[3]

Boucher was associated with the gemstone engraver Jacques Guay, whom he taught to draw. Later Boucher made a series of drawings of works by Guay which Madame de Pompadour then engraved and distributed as a handsomely bound volume to favored courtiers.[4] The neoclassical painter Jacques-Louis David began his painting instruction under Boucher.


Reflecting inspiration gained from such artists as eroticism as his mythological scenes are passionate and intimately amorous rather than traditionally epic. Marquise de Pompadour (mistress of King Louis XV), whose name became synonymous with Rococo art, was a great admirer of his work.

Boucher's paintings such as The Breakfast (1739), a familial scene, show how he was as a master of the genre scene, where he regularly used his own wife and children as models. These intimate family scenes are contrasting to the licentious style seen in his Odalisque portraits. The dark-haired version of the Odalisque portraits prompted claims by the art critic Denis Diderot that Boucher was "prostituting his own wife", and the Blonde Odalisque was a portrait that illustrated the extramarital relationships of the King. Boucher gained lasting notoriety through such private commissions for wealthy collectors and, after Diderot expressed his disapproval, his reputation came under increasing critical attack during the last years of his career.

Theatrical and tapestry designs

Diana and Callisto, pen and brown ink over black chalk.

Along with his painting, Boucher also designed theater costumes and sets, and the ardent intrigues of the comic operas of Menus-Plaisirs du Roi and for the opera and for royal châteaux Versailles, Fontainebleau and Choisy. His designs for all of the aforementioned augmented his earlier reputation, resulting in many engravings from his work and even reproduction of his designs on porcelain and biscuit-ware at the Vincennes and Sèvres factories.


See also


  1. ^ a b "François Boucher", Oxford Art Online
  2. ^ a b Levey, Michael. (1993) Painting and sculpture in France 1700-1789. New Haven: Yale University Press, p. 164. ISBN 0300064942
  3. ^ Houssaye, Arsène (1843). "Boucher et la peinture sous Louis XV". Revue des deux mondes. n. s. 3: 70–98.  p. 86 (citing a letter to Nicolas Lancret).
  4. ^ Leturcq, Jean François (1873). Notice sur Jacques Guay, graveur sur pierres fines du roi Louis xv. Documents émanant de Guay, et notes sur les œuvres de gravure en taille-douce et en pierres fines de la marquise de Pompadour. p. 10-12. Retrieved 2014-08-24. 
  5. ^ Kathryn B. Hiesinger, "The Sources of François Boucher's 'Psyche' Tapestries" Philadelphia Museum of Art Bulletin 72 No. 314 (November 1976), pp. 7-23.

External links

External video
Madame de PompadourBoucher's at Smarthistory.
Venus Consoling LoveBoucher's at Smarthistory
  • Prints & People: A Social History of Printed Pictures, an exhibition catalog from The Metropolitan Museum of Art (fully available online as PDF), which contains material on Boucher (see index)

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