Boucher’s influence was at its peak between 1740 and 1760 and during that time his vision shaped all the decorative elements of the French rococo interior: paintings, tapestries, chair coverings and porcelain. He is best known for his mythological and pastoral scenes, large and small, peopled by voluptuous nymphs and suggestable shepherdesses. Boucher’s father was a painter, but Boucher was clearly a precocious talent. His potential was spotted by the reigning Premier Peintre du Roi, François Lemoyne (1688-1737) who encouraged him to enter the Prix de Rome which he duly won in 1723. Boucher’s all-important trip to Italy was delayed until 1728 but when he eventually did go, he did not, as was expected, study Raphael and Michelangelo. Instead he turned to baroque examples, notably Castiglione, whose rustic subject-matter and self-consciously painterly manner exerted an enduring influence on the young French artist.
Books on François Boucher
Colin Bailey, ed., Loves of the Gods: Mythological Painting from Watteau to David, exh. cat., New York and Fort Worth, 1992.
Alastair Laing, J. Patrice Marandel and Pierre Rosenberg, François Boucher, 1703-1770, exh. cat., New York, 1986.
Alexandre Ananoff and Daniel Wildenstein, François Boucher, Paris, 1976.
Edmond and Jules de Goncourt, French Eighteenth-Century Painters: Watteau, Boucher, Chardin, La Tour, Greuze, Fragonard, 1880-2, trans. Robin Ironside, Ithaca, 1981.