A French painter
of the eighteenth century, highest exponent of the Rococo
style. In his coloration he somewhat resembles the festive
works of his predecessor Watteau
and his contemporary and pupil Fragonard
, but blown up to a hectic
Born in 1703, he studied in Italy from 1727 to 1731, and in the 1740s was taken under the patronage of Mme de Pompadour: he became court painter to Louis XV in 1765. Among his most sensible, least effusive works are portraits of Mme de Pompadour. He was also director of the Gobelins tapestry factory from 1755. He died in 1770.
His pastoral scenes are full of lusty peasant lasses and lads, with baskets on their arms and stealing kisses and pruning vines and all the sentimental claptrap of such genre. His mythological scenes are full of plump, fleshy angels and gods and putti exploding in ecstatic hovering poses in the sky and the sea. Both styles have highlights of a brilliant pink that you'd get from being too close to a furnace, except pink, and the rest of their skin is a sick greenish cast which presumably he imagined was some kind of chiaroscuro effect. No-one rests upon anything. There is nothing to rest upon. They float in the sky, on the sea, on fuzzy patches of greenery, with the occasional wisp of briar or modest veil or gown flying out from them with no sense to its movements. Light burns out of the scene but doesn't come from anywhere or anything.
Don't get me wrong, I find Bouchers pretty, and there's a charming naïvety and playfulness about them, but I've just spent the afternoon in a room full of Watteau and Fragonard, and to turn from their honesty and draughtsmanship to the fevered exuberance of Boucher almost made me ill.