BOUCHER, François
(b. 1703, Paris, d. 1770, Paris)

Diana Resting after her Bath

1742
Oil on canvas, 56 x 73 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris

This painting is unquestionably Boucher's masterpiece. As a decorative artist, Boucher had amazing facility; in this painting, done for the Salon in 1742, he wished to excel himself. It places him in the ranks of the great masters, and on looking at it one begins to realize how gifted he was, even though he did not always make full use of his talent.

The slender nudes and the hunting theme recall the School of Fontainebleau, of which certain traditions persist in the eighteenth century. The paint surface is intact, and the old varnish, which contains no artificial colouring, gives it a slightly golden tone.

The painting is a masterpiece in the true classical manner; the technique is not too obvious, all the values are harmoniously balanced, and the elegance of the drawing and the purity of the forms are more important than the more sensual charms of colour.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 19 minutes):
Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Variations on a Rococo Theme