François Boucher
French painter



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François Boucher
French painter
Average: 5 (1 vote)

Birth Date

September 29, 1703

Death Date

May 30, 1770

cschuster's picture

Sr. Contributor

François Boucher is the man responsible for inflicting Rococo on Europe.

According to famed art critic Denis Diderot, "That man [Francois] is capable of everything except the truth." While that's a solid enlightenment burn, it's a little difficult to pinpoint exactly what part of Boucher's semi-charmed kind of life Denis is attacking. Boucher basically ran the 18th century Paris art scene. Early in his career, he won the coveted Prix de Rome, which should have included an all expenses paid trip to Rome so he could study the Italian masters. But, one of the king's main men had it in for Francois and tied up the money. So Franny worked his fanny off and raised the money himself. 

It wasn't long after returning to Paris that Boucher caught the eye of his most important patron: Mme. du Pompadour, chief mistress to King Louis XV. The queen of France called on Boucher to decorate Versailles from time to time, but du Pompadour really had him on speed dial to embellish everything else. For Mme. de Pompadour, Boucher was official painter, art adviser for purchases, art teacher, and a dear friend. Her attention led to the king's. Boucher eventually occupied the two highest offices an artist could hold in Paris: first painter to the king and director of the Royal Academy.

Boucher was a genius when it came to marketing. Under du Pompadour's influence, he became lead designer or director at Paris' largest porcelain and tapestry factories. With such great power, Boucher saw an opportunity to cash in. Suddenly, his designs could be found on teapots and wall tapestries, slippers and fans. If you could wear it or decorate your house with it, Boucher's design was probably all over it. He even buddied up to some of Parisian opera's biggest players, designing sets and costumes for the era's biggest stage hits. You literally couldn't be alive in 18th century Paris without having Boucher's art be a part of the fabric of your daily life. The guy claimed to have made 1000 paintings and 10,000 drawings in his lifetime and the estimate probably isn't far off.

But, Rococo, and Boucher, turned out to be a fad. The people wanted something else and Boucher had nothing but Rococo to offer. Between his artistic version of vertical integration, and pioneering the concept of making art specifically for collectors, he was able to live well to the end. 

mhoutzager's picture


Born September 29, 1703 - Died May 30, 1770

Boucher hit the big time when one of Louis the XVth's mistresses, the Marquise de Pompadour, took him under her wing. (Incidentally, Sophia Coppola's movie "Marie Antoinette" does a nice job showing what life was like at Louis the XV's court)

As a sideline, Boucher also designed sets for the theater, and he generally lived indoors. He famously said that nature is "trop verte et mal éclairée" (too green and badly lit).

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Here is what Wikipedia says about François Boucher

François Boucher (French: [fʁɑ̃swa buʃe]; 29 September 1703 – 30 May 1770) was a French painter, draughtsman and etcher, who worked in the Rococo style. Boucher is known for his idyllic and voluptuous paintings on classical themes, decorative allegories, and pastoral scenes. He was perhaps the most celebrated painter and decorative artist of the 18th century.


A native of Paris, Boucher was the son of a lesser known painter Nicolas Boucher, who gave him his first artistic training. At the age of seventeen, a painting by Boucher was admired by the painter François Lemoyne. Lemoyne later appointed Boucher as his apprentice, but after only three months, he went to work for the engraver Jean-François Cars.

In 1720, he won the elite Grand Prix de Rome for painting, but did not take up the consequential opportunity to study in Italy until five years later, due to financial problems at the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture. On his return from studying in Italy he was admitted to the refounded Académie de peinture et de sculpture on 24 November 1731. His morceau de réception (reception piece) was his Rinaldo and Armida of 1734.

Boucher married Marie-Jeanne Buzeau in 1733. The couple had three children together. Boucher became a faculty member in 1734 and his career accelerated from this point as he was promoted Professor then Rector of the Academy, becoming inspector at the Royal Gobelins Manufactory and finally Premier Peintre du Roi (First Painter of the King) in 1765.

Boucher died on 30 May 1770 in his native Paris. His name, along with that of his patron Madame de Pompadour, had become synonymous with the French Rococo style, leading the Goncourt brothers to write: "Boucher is one of those men who represent the taste of a century, who express, personify and embody it."

Boucher is famous for saying that nature is "trop verte et mal éclairée" (too green and badly lit).

Boucher was associated with the gemstone engraver Jacques Guay, whom he taught to draw. He also mentored the Moravian-Austrian painter Martin Ferdinand Quadal as well as the neoclassical painter Jacques-Louis David in 1767. Later, Boucher made a series of drawings of works by Guay which Madame de Pompadour then engraved and distributed as a handsomely bound volume to favored courtiers.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about François Boucher.

Comments (1)


Cogsworth in Disney's Beauty and the Beast said it best: 'If it ain't Baroque don't fix it'. And there is nothing that needs fixing here. Five stars.