Art e Dossier

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Art History

Francois Boucher: biography

François Boucher was born in Paris on 29 September 1703. He was the son of a minor painter who earned his living by selling prints and art materials. He learnt his first skills from his father, but soon moved on to the art studio of François Lemoyne, where he worked as an apprentice for several months. He next went to work in the engraving studio of Jean-François Cars. In 1722, the art collector Jean de Julienne asked him to put Watteau’s works to print. Like many other artists of the time, he participated in the Prix de Rome in 1723 in the hope of travelling to Italy. Although he won, he was unable to leave Paris. In 1725, he exhibited some small pictures at the Exposition de la Jeunesse, which proved to be a big success. Finally, in 1728, he was able to leave for Italy together with Carle, François and Louis-Michel van Loo. They stayed at the Villa Medici, home of the Académie di France in Rome. He returned to Paris in 1731 and produced a series of engravings for Julienne under the title of Diverses figures chinoises peintes par Watteau au Château de la Muette. In the same year he entered the Académie des Beaux-Arts as a painter of historical pictures. His first dated painting in 1732 depicted Venus Asking Vulcan for Arms for Aeneas (Louvre). In 1733, he married Marie-Jeanne Buseau, who would be a frequent model for him. From 1734 onwards Boucher began to receive commissions for some very important works such as designs for the Beauvais Tapestry Factory dedicated to the Fêtes italiennes (executed between 1736 and 1762) and the creation of four “grisailles” of the Virtues for the queen’s chambers at Versailles (1735). On 7 July 1737 he became a faculty member of the Académie together with Carle van Loo and Natoire. At the Salons in 1737 and 1738 Boucher presented four pastoral themes and three boudoir panels for the Hôtel de Soubis. In 1741 Count Tessin bought a series of paintings for the Royal Palace in Stockholm. At the Salon in 1742 Boucher exhibited eight sketches with “chinoiseries” created especially for the Beauvais Tapestry Factory. From 1746 to 1753 he worked on decorations for Versailles and Fontainebleu. The most important moment of the artist’s career was in 1751 when he became Madame de Pompadour’s design and engraving teacher. It was under her patronage that the artist began to do a lot of work for the Sèvres Porcelain Factory. In 1755, after having painted the Four Seasons for the Marquise de Pompadour, he was made director of the Goeblins Tapestries. In this period he alternated between painting and engraving and worked side by side with Gilles Demarteau. Although he had an excellent reputation at court and was appointed director of the Académie in 1761, towards the end of his career he came under increasing criticism, in particular from Diderot. In 1765, he was appointed first court painter and in 1767 his appointment as the director of the Académie was confirmed. François Boucher died on 30 May 1770 in his chambers in the Louvre.

The works