François Boucher (1703–1770, French)

Portrait of Francois Boucher by Gustav Lundberg, 1741.

Francois Boucher by Gustav Lundberg, 1741

François Boucher (1703–1770) was a French Rococo artist who produced works in many genres such as porcelain and tapestries in addition to his many paintings and drawings. He began by printmaking and designing book illustrations and later started to create etchings and drawings based on works by Antoine Watteau.  After a trip to Italy, he returned to Paris in 1731 and began to work on large scale mythological paintings. His works caught the eye of King Louis XV and Madame de Pompadour, who became known as the “godmother of Rococo”. Through these connections, he was appointed the first painter to the king and the director of the Royal Academy. 

Boucher’s Rococo paintings concentrate on the pastoral as well as the erotic. Luxuriously dressed ladies mingle with gentlemen in settings of trees and roses with a cherub sometimes present. Light pastels of greens and blues are used to create a soothing effect. In addition, he was a prolific draftsman. Boucher produced numerous sets of prints which adapted Chinese figures to Rococo taste, fueling the fashion for chinoiserie.  An example is Chinese Girl Playing with a Cat.



Chinese Girl Playing with a Cat, Francois Boucher

Chinese Girl Playing with a Cat


Boucher includes cats in many of his paintings as a symbol of licentiousness and eroticism as well as cleanliness.  In the 1742 painting La Toilette , we see the cat between the widely spread legs of a woman dressing.


1742 The toilette MuseoThyssen Bornemisza Madrid Francois Boucher

La Toilette
Francois Boucher


Detail La toilette, François Boucher, 1742

Detail La Toilette

In Young Woman Taking a Foot Bath, we see the cat next to the basin as a symbol of cleanliness and eroticism. In a Beautiful Kitchen Maid the cat is a witness to the seduction of the maid. Its strange expression depicts a certain comic boredom.

Francois Boucher, Young Woman Taking a Footbath with cat

Young Woman Taking a Foot Bath


Detail, Francois Boucher, Young Woman Taking a Footbath

Detail, Young Woman Taking a Foot Bath


Francois Boucher, The Beautiful Kitchen Maid, 1732

The Beautiful Kitchen Maid

And in The Surprise, Woman with a Cat, we see a woman sitting in a chair with a young girl’s hand suggestively resting in her lower lap. The woman is holding a cat, its behind slightly uplifted, symbolic of licentiousness, while a man looks down upon her.

Francois Boucher, La Surprise, La Femme au chat, 1730, Woman with a Cat

La Surprise, La Femme au chat


Francois Boucher, Detail, The Surprise, woman with a cat

Detail, The Surprise, Woman with a Cat


François Boucher, Les caresses dangeureuses, ca. 1730-1732, Oil on canvas

Les caresses dangeureuses
ca. 1730-1732


François Boucher (Francia, 1703-1770). La modiste, 1746

La Modiste, 1746


François Boucher - La modiste, 1746 - Detail

Detail, La Modiste


La Belle Villageoise de Francois Boucher, 1732

La Belle Villageoise


Francois Boucher, The Little Farm Maid

The Little Farm Maid


Attributed to Francois Boucher A Boy with a Cat

Attributed to Francois Boucher A Boy with a Cat



 Want to know more about the cat in history, art and literature? Then Revered and Reviled is the book for you. Now available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats. 


Revered and Reviled: A Complete History of the Domestic Cat, cat history, cats


Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2016 Laura Vocelle
%d bloggers like this: