In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • "Luxe, Calme, et Volupté":François Boucher's Rococo Seductions
  • Karen Junod
"Boucher Seductive Visions." The Wallace Collection, London, 30 September 2004-17 April 2005
Exhibition catalogue: Jo Hedley, François Boucher: Seductive Visions (London: The Wallace Collection, 2004).
Talks: 26 January 2005: David Coward, "Libertins and Liberty: Literature in an Age of Reason."
23 February 2005: Stella Tillyard, "Drawing Room to Picture Frame: Women and Celebrity in the Eighteenth Century."
30 March 2005: Roger Scruton, "A Vital Contrast: Erotic Art, Pornography, and the Enlightenment."

Exhibition catalogue:
Jo Hedley, François Boucher: Seductive Visions (London: The Wallace Collection, 2004).

Talks:
26 January 2005: David Coward, "Libertins and Liberty: Literature in an Age of Reason."
23 February 2005: Stella Tillyard, "Drawing Room to Picture Frame: Women and Celebrity in the Eighteenth Century."
30 March 2005: Roger Scruton, "A Vital Contrast: Erotic Art, Pornography, and the Enlightenment."

Between October 2003 and May 2004, a series of exhibitions marking the three hundredth anniversary of the birth of François Boucher (1703–1770) took place in France and the United States. The shows—entitled Boucher: hier et aujourd'hui (Paris, Louvre), Boucher et l'art rocaille (Paris, Ecole des Beaux-Arts), Boucher et les écoles du Nord (Dijon, Musée Magnin), and The Drawings of François Boucher (New York, Frick Collection)—commemorated the life and career of the French painter, focusing on aspects less familiar to larger audiences, especially his drawings. In the wake of these exhibitions, the Wallace Collection decided to pay its own tribute to the eighteenth-century artist. Certainly, in Britain, no place other than the Wallace Collection could have better honored the art of Boucher. The stately house at Manchester Square had been the residence of the fourth Marquess of Hertford, Richard Seymour-Conway (1800–1870), one of [End Page 141] Boucher's most passionate collectors. The Marquess's keenness had contributed to rehabilitating the artist's fame in the mid-nineteenth century—at least among art connoisseurs—at a time when Boucher's pictures were decidedly out of fashion. Re-shuffling its usual hanging so as to give as much space as possible to its rococo star, the Collection thus reassembled and presented in the Great Room its entire collection of Boucher paintings (nineteen in total), to which were added other items related to Boucher's art, including examples of Sèvres porcelain, Boulle marquetry, and goldsmiths' work. The main show, Boucher Seductive Visions (30 September 2004 to 17 April 2005) was accompanied by three smaller exhibitions: Boucher: Landscapes (30 September to 19 December 2004), Boucher: Dutch and Flemish Inspirations (6 January to 6 March 2005) and Seductive Revisions: New Responses to Boucher (17 March to 17 April 2005). Accompanying the three shows was a remarkable catalogue written by the curator of the exhibition, Jo Hedley, which contained six chapters contextualizing Boucher's art within eighteenth-century thought and culture. Various other events were organized around the exhibitions, including three lectures sponsored by the Times Literary Supplement as well as a two-day international conference entitled "Boucher and the Enlightenment" (4–5 February 2004) which sought to reassess Boucher as a major figure of the Enlightenment.

The main purpose of the shows and of the catalogue was indeed to recast the habitual image of the French painter (Figure 1). In Britain, Boucher had usually been tossed aside as the painter of plump little cherubs, fleshy bottoms, pink nipples, and passionate gazes. Instead, Hedley explains in her catalogue how she aimed "to demonstrate how Boucher's artistic vocation was every bit as serious and ambitious in the eighteenth century as that of Titian or Rubens in their eras" (13). To do so, her Seductive Visions presented Boucher's pictures as complex narratives embedded in the social, political, aesthetic, and economic realities of eighteenth-century France. More than simply a "peintre des Grâces," Boucher, she showed, was a formidable manager, adapting his art to the contemporary market and dealing with the Academy, the Court, as well as with other sources of public and private patronage. The title of the exhibition—Seductive Visions—had therefore to be understood in two different ways: not only did it allude to Boucher's...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1086-315X
Print ISSN
0013-2586
Pages
pp. 141-148
Launched on MUSE
2005-10-18
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.