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

The Love Letter

Oil on canvas, 81 x 75 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington

This painting is also referred to as The Two Confidantes, The Messenger, The Lovers' Secret Mail. It typifies the pastoral idiom Boucher had already made his own by the late 1740s. He never concerned himself with the verities of country life, but employed the shepherdess type as an idealized protagonist for his decorative pictures. In this example he lavished his brush on the women's satin dresses, their powdery skin, and the casual perfection at their hair.

The painting is the pendant to the Interrupted Sleep (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York), another pastoral subject matching in size, composition and amorous theme. The paintings were produced for Jeanne Antoinette Poisson, marquise de Pompadour, the mistress of Louis XV. They were described as overdoors for Pompadour's residence at Bellevue outside Paris.