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François Boucher

Mar - 18 - 2013

BoucherFrançois Boucher (29 September 1703 – 30 May 1770) was a French painter, a proponent of Rococo taste, known for his idyllic and voluptuous paintings on classical themes, decorative allegories representing the arts or pastoral occupations, intended as a sort of two-dimensional furniture. He was perhaps the most celebrated decorative artist of the 18th century. He also painted several portraits of his illustrious patroness, Madame de Pompadour.
Born in Paris, the son of a lace designer Nicolas Boucher, François Boucher was perhaps the most celebrated decorative artist of the 18th century, with most of his work reflecting the Rococo style. At the young age of 17, Boucher was apprenticed by his father to François Lemoyne, however after only 3 months he went to work for the engraver Jean-François Cars. Within 3 years Boucher had already won the elite Grand Prix de Rome, although he did not take up the consequential opportunity to study in Italy until 4 years later. On his return from studying in Italy in 1731, he was admitted to the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture as a historical painter, and became a faculty member in 1734.
Boucher also designed tapestry cartoons for the Beauvais Tapestry Manufactory and in 1756 became the supervisor of the Gobelins manufactory. His designs had a significant impact on the decorative arts throughout Europe, especially at Sèvres, where his designs were painted on and modeled in porcelain.

François Boucher, Ruhendes Mädchen (1751, Wallraf-Richartz Museum)

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

Boucher’s fertile imagination and unified aesthetic were also well suited to the medium of tapestry, and the manufactory of Beauvais had many commercial successes based on his designs, including the series Fêtes Italiennes (64.145.3), which went into production in 1736. In 1755, he was appointed head of the royal tapestry manufactory at Gobelins, where he continued to collaborate on the design of successful series of tapestries. These included the set produced for Croome Court in the 1760s (58.75.1-22), in which compositions after his designs were set into medallions against a trompe l’oeil damask ground. Boucher’s greatest skill as a designer, the ability to subjugate disparate sources to his aesthetic, was also his greatest failing in the eyes of later critics, especially as Neoclassicism supplanted the Rococo in the last quarter of the eighteenth century.

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