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Reclining Male Figure
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François Boucher
French, Paris, 1736
Black, red, and white chalk on blue paper
11 x 17 3/8 in.
83.GB.359

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A young man lies outstretched with his legs crossed, reclining on a bunched piece of fabric and strumming a lute or another stringed instrument. With his back to the viewer and his face partially hidden, the man's twisted pose rather than his identity becomes the focus of the drawing. The gathers of fabric on which he leans, the wrinkled folds of his coat, and the outstretched length of his legs all create interest and draw the viewer's eyes around the figure and into the composition.

François Boucher used a technique known as aux trois crayons, in red, black, and white chalks, which he and his contemporaries made popular in France in the 1700s. As a middle tone, he adopted the blue paper favored by Venetian artists.

A favorite painter at the French court, Boucher designed tapestries for the royal factories, Beauvais and Gobelins. He made this drawing, one of very few that survive, for his first suite of tapestries, the Fêtes italiennes.