Van Gogh •
|Birth Year :
|Death Year :
Francois Boucher was born in Paris, the son of a lace designer who first taught him to draw. He studied with
Francois Le Moyne for a short while in 1720, worked with an engraver for whom he drew book illustrations, and won the Prix de Rome in 1924. He did not leave for the usual four-year sojourn in Italy until 1727. In Italy, he studied the work of Northern Italian painters, especially those of the Venetian school led by Tiepolo. The greatest influences on Boucher's style were Le Moyne (who painted in the manner of Tiepolo), the late Baroque and early Rococo Venetians, and Watteau, from whose paintings and drawings Boucher made engravings. After his return to Paris and his subsequent election to the Academy in 1734, Boucher moved almost exclusively in the world of the French Court, where he was first patronized by the Queen and then by Madame de Pompadour, whose friend, teacher, and protégé he remained. Boucher decorated many royal buildings and chateaux and in 1756, at the instigation of Madame de Pompadour, he received from King Louis XVI the important position of director of the Gobelins tapestry factory. Nine years later he was named "first painter to the King" and Director of the Royal Academy.
The most popular and fashionable painter of his period, Boucher was the final arbiter of taste in all forms of decorative art as Simon Vouet had
been under Louis XIII and Le Brun under Louis XIV. His influence extended not only to painting but also to interior decoration, tapestries (made both at Gobelins and at Beauvais), porcelain (from Vincennes and Sevres), and to the often elaborate settings for public festivities. Boucher painted historical and mythological paintings, fine portraits, and the pastoral scenes for which he is most famous. In the latter, well-dressed and delicate peasants play games in the fantastic formal landscapes of the time. Boucher's extremely decorative work is cool and translucent in color, softly rounded in form, and harmonious and refined in effect. He had many imitators, and in his final years his large workshop turned out many works that he merely supervised. His influence continued even into the next generation through its finest painter, Jean Honoré Fragonard.