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

The Rape of Europa

1732-34
Oil on canvas, 231 x 274 cm
Wallace Collection, London

Diderot bitterly attacked Boucher. All Diderot's fury about falseness, lack of observation of nature, corruption of morals, loses its relevance before the finest products of Boucher's art. His mythological world was more frankly feminine, and more accessible, than Tiepolo's; it hardly tries to astonish the spectator, and its magic is no exciting spell but a slow beguilement of the senses, a lulling tempo by which it is always afternoon in the gardens of Armida. There is no clash of love and duty, no public audience, and with barely the presence of men (Boucher increasingly could hardly be bothered to delineate them at all). But this does not automatically mean frivolity. Especially in the years up to and about 1750, Boucher's own artistic and actual vigour combined to produce a whole range of mythological pictures which were decorative, superbly competent, and tinged with their own vein of poetry.

The painting was painted for the avocat François Derbais who owned at least eight large Bouchers by 1735.




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