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

Madame de Pompadour

Oil on canvas, 72,5 x 57 cm
Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Although Boucher served the rococo movement well, it was essentially through the exercise of concious fancy rather than any profoundly imaginative impulse. He was capable of painting straightforward genre scenes and portraits soberly realistic. All his portraits of Madame de Pompadour are characterized by equal directness and emphasis upon spontaneity. He placed her reading, reclining, seizing a hat before going for a walk, and not only in natural poses but in a natural, half-rural setting. Simply dressed and well equipped with books, she pauses in her reading to listen to a bird singing, in a wonderful woodland of velvet moss and silken foliage. This is a portrait artificial only in the way that Watteau and Gainsborough were artificial. It is utterly simple in concept, even anti-rococo, when compared with the high court portraiture of Nattier.