Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Painting of the Day: Boucher's “Pastorale,” 1763

Boucher, 1763
The Victoria & Albert Museum

French painter François Boucher (1703-1770) traveled to Italy to study as well as view the landscape. This voyage seems to have influenced his style quite a bit, and his compositions have a richness which puts one in mind of Italian pastoral scenes.

Upon Boucher’s return to Paris, he garnered the favor of the Royal Court and achieved quite a lot of success with private patrons. A prolific artist, Boucher was known for his pastoral paintings, but also for his tapestry designs and porcelain models which were integral to the development of the then-new Rococo movement.

Here we see a 1763 painting by Boucher which nicely demonstrates his artistic sensibilities. The painting, exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1765, shows the popular Arcadian theme of love—a theme which was often set against a backdrop of a bucolic scene of country life. Appropriately entitled, “Pastorale,” the oval composition gives us two figures on the edges of a wooded area. A young man smokes a pipe while a young woman presents him with a crown which she fashioned from olive branch. The sheep and dog which stand beside them are forever symbols of their innocent flirtation and the affection and loyalty which they share.

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