François Boucher

Dates1703 - 1770
RolesArtist, Designer
BornParis, France
DiedParis, France

For François Boucher, "art" meant "artifice." He could paint straightforward genre scenes and portraits when appropriate, but the times called for enchantment and frolic, with just the right touch of titillation. Boucher's paintings and drawings celebrated a silvery, shimmering world of perfumes and powders, inspiring copies of his designs in media ranging from textiles and marquetry to porcelain.

Boucher began his career engraving Jean-Antoine Watteau's works. The native Parisian won the Prix de Rome in 1723 but he admired little in Italy. In 1734 he became a member of the Académie Royale and the following year obtained his first commission for Versailles. From then on, his sparkling Rococo confections graced stage sets and the most important decorations and remodeling of royal residences and town houses. He gained renown for his charmingly suggestive mythological scenes, ultimately inspired by Peter Paul Rubens and Jean-Antoine Watteau. In 1749 he began teaching engraving and drawing to Louis XV's mistress, Madame de Pompadour, and by 1765 he was named first painter to the king and director of the Académie.

Boucher also designed tapestry cartoons for the Beauvais Tapestry Manufactory and in 1756 became the supervisor of the Gobelins manufactory. His designs had a significant impact on the decorative arts throughout Europe, especially at Sèvres, where his designs were painted on and modeled in porcelain.