Louis-Léopold Boilly

Dates1761 - 1845

The son of a wood-sculptor, Louis-Léopold Boilly came from a modest background. As a teenager, he studied painting in the provinces, moving to Paris in 1785 only after ascertaining the marketability of his genre scenes. He established himself as a painter of slightly naughty images, which were especially popular with patrons who enjoyed the mischievous side of life. In 1794, an erotic painting elicited accusations of obscenity--an offense that carried the threat of prison and harsh penalties. A keen observer of human behavior, Boilly turned his attention to more public scenes, depicting the social customs of Parisians at the Salon, on the promenade, at the billiard table. He meticulously recorded facial details and gestures, and his depictions of costumes and textiles are fascinating as a chronicle of fashion. Boilly's paintings and drawings, often tinged with humor, showcase the artist's witty interpretation of urban life.