François Boucher (1703-1770)

François Boucher was one of the most important painters of the French Rococo. He was the son of the painter Nicolas Boucher and studied from 1720 with François Lemoyne. In 1723 he won a prize at the Royal Academy, which provided a long scholarship in Rome. After his return to France he soon had great success with his mythic-erotic allegories. He was admitted to the Royal Academy and became the favorite of Madame de Pompadour.

Despite his great success as a painter, he also decorated public buildings, designed tapestries and porcelain, and cared for the mass reproduction of his famous paintings in the form of facsimiles.

Although Boucher painted actually no "real" history paintings, he is still in many ways typical and exemplary for the way to illustrate history during the Rococo. To him history is mostly an erotic-exotic decoration of the present. And because he didn't want to let reality interfere, he evaded skilfully into mythic realms.

With this sweet kitsch Boucher, of course, brought upon himself the wrath of the upcoming neoclassicists. But one should not forget that artists of the late 19th Century, such as Lawrence Alma-Tadema, William-Adolphe Bouguereau and John William Godward, which are mostly officially listed as neoclassicists, owe him stylistically far more than the true neoclassicists.

The Rape of Europa (c.1732-4)

Renaud and Armide (1734)

The Birth of Venus (1740)

Diana Leaving the Bath (1742)

Vulcan presenting Weapons for Aeneas to Venus (1757)