This person is associated with: Rococo
French painter, leader of the Rococo style.
The son of an unknown draughtsman, Boucher studied under Lemoyne for a short period. Pushed by necessity, he had to work rapidly; he therefore started his career as a etcher, notably by engraving more than a hundred of Watteau's works. Then, he won the Prix de Rome in 1723 for Evilmerodach Releasong Jehoiachin from Prison (lost painting). However, he was not awarded a stipend to travel to Rome and had to fund the trip by himself; he left in 1728 with his future rival Carle Van Loo, who had won the prize of 1724.
Back in Paris in 1731, he received his first
important commission by a small lawyer named François Debrais. Boucher decided to make an ambitious ensemble in order to make himself known to the Parisian elite. He painted five large mythological scenes and four canvases of putti, for the billiard room and the staircase of the house. Soon after its completion, Boucher was admitted in the Academy in 1734; his reception piece was
Rinaldo and Armida.
As a result, his career rapidly took off and Boucher was kept busy with prestigious commissions until his death. Firstly, he made a set of four massive pastorals for an unknown patron in 1735 (supposedly the Duke of Richelieu).
1745: a genre scene for the Swedish queen to be.
These early successes caught the eye of Madame de Pompadour, the King's official mistress, whose interest in the Arts and position at the court had turned her into the most prominent patron in Europe. They started to collaborate in 1749
For Madame de Pompadour, he made eight panels on the Arts and Sciences (now in the Frick).
1756: Four works on the Story of Aminta and Sylvia for the Duke of Penthièvre in his Hôtel de Toulouse (Paris).
Additionally, Boucher was the most successful tapestry designer of the century. The manufacture of Beauvais first employed him in 1735, at the expense of their arch-rival of the Gobelins, however the leading French manufacture at the time. At the death of Oudry in 1755, the Gobelins lobbied the Ministry to appoint Boucher at his place of Inspector of the Gobelins, and successfully poached him from Beauvais. Among his greatest successes in this art, we can count a series of 6 large Pastorales in 1748, 12 chinoiseries for Beauvais (9 series in total)
His fabulous career as a designer also extended the Manufacture of Sèvres and decorative designs for theatres.
However, the death of the Duchess of Pompadour marked the end of Boucher's hegemony on the arts, which started to evolve towards less frivolous compositions, as Vien had. Criticised by Diderot in the Salon, besides he refused to display his works in 1767 after some pamphlets had criticised him.
Unlike most of his contemporaries, Boucher sold his drawings, which were collected by the amateurs. As a result, more than 5,000 drawings are said to survive today.
He was appointed academician in 1734, then Premier Peintre du Roi in 1765.
He was the master of
Fragonard, Le Mettay, Drouais and Challe and father-in-law of Baudouin and Deshays de Colleville.
Les Dessins de François Boucher, Paris, Éditions Scala, 2003.
Melissa Hyde, Making Up the Rococo: François Boucher and His Critics, Los Angeles, Getty Publications, 2006.
Melissa Hyde & Mark Ledbury, Rethinking Boucher, Los Angeles, Getty Publications, 2006.