"Voluptuousness was the essence and the soul of Boucher's art," wrote the Goncourt brothers, famous art critics of the mid-1800s. Intended to be framed and hung like a painting, Venus and Cupid typifies François Boucher's works both in its unselfconsciously erotic female nude and in its sensual use of the chalk medium. Until the 1700s, few artists had actively cultivated the powdery, floating qualities of chalks. Here the green pastel in the vegetation and the white chalk above it billow around Venus like a veil of smoke, complementing the soft, yielding fleshy bodies that Boucher created with a thick application of white chalk.
Throughout his long career, Boucher made two to three drawings a day, producing approximately ten thousand known works ranging from quick sketches to finished compositions like this one.