Francois Boucher

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"Francois Boucher painted The Toilet of Venus. This painting was custom-made for Madame de Pompadour as part of the decoration for her cabinet de toilette at the Chateau de Bellevue, which was one of the residences she shared with King Louis XV. In the painting there are cupids and doves which are attributes of Venus as the goddess of Love. The flowers allude to her role as patroness of gardens and the pearls reflect her mysterious birth from the sea. Francois made the painting during the Rococo Style period. As a painter of nudes, Boucher had no equal in his generation. "

Painter François Boucher (1703-1770) was an important French artist who created works in the Rococo style. He was inspired by several sources, ranging from Classical mythology to more contemporary pursuits and passions. Indeed, Boucher is best known for his fashionably frivolous depictions of rosy-cheeked aristocratic ladies, pudgy putti, and idealized mythological subjects.

The Toilet of Venus (1751) typifies the superficially pleasing elegance of Boucher‘s late mature style. Likewise painted for the royal mistress is The Toilet of Venus, an exquisite cabinet painting in which the surface has been brought to a high state of polish, setting off the pearly flesh tones of Venus and the sumptuous fabrics that surround her.

No French painter of the 18th century was more inextricably linked to court patronage than François Boucher. This picture was commissioned by Madame de Pompadour as part of the decoration for her cabinet de toilette at the Château de Bellevue, one of the residences she shared with Louis XV. The cupids and the doves are attributes of Venus as goddess of Love. The flowers allude to her role as patroness of gardens and the pearls to her mysterious birth from the sea. As a painter of nudes Boucher ranks with Rubens in the 17th century and Renoir in the 19th; among his contemporaries he had no equal

Artist
François Boucher (French, 1703–1770)
Title
The Toilet of Venus
Date
1751
Medium
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
42 5/8 x 33 1/2 in. (108.3 x 85.1 cm)
Credit Line
Bequest of William K. Vanderbilt, 1920
Accession Number
20.155.9

Pg2 - Francois made the painting during the Rococo Style period. Rococo Style was popular in Western Europe from 1700-1780. The term comes from French, which stands for fanciful rock or shell design and it exhibits an elegant feeling and style.

Boucher often turned to the elegant and rather superficial subjects typical of the rococo style, of which he was an outstanding master. Venus appears repeatedly in his works, and there are a number of canvases such as this showing the goddess of beauty at her toilet. Such subjects allowed the artist to create one of those light and frivolous works for which he was so famous, its optimism and festiveness enhanced by the colour scheme. This painting forms a pair with another canvas in the Hermitage, showing the triumph of Venus. Both works - as was common in the rococo style - were intended to decorate an interior and to form an integral part of an ensemble. For many years Boucher produced designs for elegant tapestries and this could not but affect his painting style. This influence can be seen in the precise drawing, the relative flatness and exaggerated ornamentality of details.

Notes on page 1 info - Oil on canvas
Oil painting is the process of painting with pigments that are bound with a medium of drying oil — especially in early modern Europe, linseed oil. Often an oil such as linseed was boiled with a resin such as pine resin or even frankincense; these were called 'varnishes' and were prized for their body and gloss. Other oils occasionally used include poppyseed oil, walnut oil, and safflower oil. These oils confer various properties to the oil paint, such as less yellowing or different drying times. Certain differences are also visible in the sheen of the paints depending on the oil. Painters often use different oils in the...
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