François Boucher

François Boucher

Style: Rococo

Lived: September 29, 1703 - May 30, 1770 (18th century)

Nationality: France

Francois Boucher was born in Paris on September 29, 1703, as the son of decorator 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 age of 17, Boucher was apprenticed to François Lemoyne, however after only 3 months he went to work for the engraver Jean-François Cars. Within 3 years Boucher had won the elite Grand Prix de Rome. 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.

His career moved upwards and onwards from this point, as he advanced from professor to Rector of the Academy, became head of the Royal Gobelin factory in 1755 and finally "Premier Peintre du Roi" in 1765.

Boucher's early work celebrates the idyllic and tranquil, portraying nature and landscape with great élan, with much of his work reflecting inspiration gained from artists Watteau and Rubens. However, his work typically forgoes traditional rural innocence to portray scenes with a definitive style of eroticism, and his mythological scenes are amorous rather than traditionally epic.

Marquise de Pompadour (mistress of King Louis XV), was a great fan of Boucher’s art. It is particularly in his portraits of her that his style is clearly exemplified. Boucher gained lasting notoriety through such private commissions for wealthy collectors and, after the ever-moral Diderot expressed his disapproval (that Boucher was "prostituting his own wife" by depicting her in his paintings), his reputation came under increasing critical attack during the last of his creative years.

Boucher also designed theatre costumes and sets. The ardent intrigues of the comic operas Favart closely parallel his own style of painting. Tapestry design was also an interest and major activity of his, together with his design activities for the opera and the royal palaces of Versailles, Fontainebleu and Choisy.

Francois Boucher died on May 30th, 1770 in Paris, France. His name had become synonymous with the French Rococo style, along with that of his patron, Madame de Pompadour.

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