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François Boucher


François Boucher was born in Paris in 1703 and died there in 1770. The son of a Parisian embroidery designer who served as his first drawing instructor, Boucher later studied with the painter François Lemoyne. In 1721 he worked under the print-maker François Cars, for whom he pre­pared many book illustrations. Jean de Julienne employed the young artist to prepare more than one hundred prints after Watteau's paintings and drawings for the so-called Recueil Julienne. Boucher won the Prix-de-Rome in 1723, but only left for Italy in 1727, remaining there for three years. He returned to Paris in 1731 and was admitted to the Académie Royale. He soon became an extremely successful painter, also working on Molière illustrations, cartoons for the Beauvais tapestry factory and decorations for the theater and opera. Like Rubens, whose art often inspired him, Boucher was a brilliant designer, able to integrate his works within a larger decorative ensemble with consummate skill. Boucher was the favorite painter of Madame de Pompadour, and her brother, the Marquis de Marigny, who as Superintendent of the King's Buildings, employed Boucher from 1746 onward for decorations at the royal residences of Marly, Versailles, and Bellevue. Many honors followed: an apartment in the Louvre in 1752, an inspectorship at the Gobelins tapestry factory in 1756, an appointment as 'First Painter to the King', and the directorship of the Academie Royale in 1765. Despite such official recognition, Boucher was to come under sharp attack from Diderot, who desired a more moralistic art, and from the neo-Classicists, who urged a return to the values of antiquity. Nonetheless Boucher assumed an artistic dictatorship not seen since Le Brun. His vivacious, decorative handling of all subjects, stressing those tactile, erotic elements that so much appealed to the pleasure seeking spirit of the time, was to be continued in his pupil Fragonard's oeuvre.
Image Artist Artwork Title Date School K No. Repository