François Boucher – L'Oiseleur
François Boucher – L'Oiseleur
François Boucher – L'Oiseleur


François Boucher – L'Oiseleur

Royal manufacture of Aubusson

Circa. 1770

Carton after François Boucher

Materials : Wool & silk

Dimensions : 290 x 400 cm ; 10 x 13 ft

Condition Report: Excellent

Provenance: Private collection, France


About François Boucher

François Boucher born in Paris, the son of a lace designer Nicolas Boucher, François Boucher was perhaps the most celebrated decorative artist of the 18th century, with most of his work reflecting the Rococo style. At the young age of 17, Boucher was apprenticed by his father to François Lemoyne, however after only 3 months he went to work for the engraver Jean-François Cars. Within 3 years Boucher had already won the elite Grand Prix de Rome, although he did not take up the consequential opportunity to study in Italy until 4 years later. On his return from studying in Italy in 1731, he was admitted to the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture as a historical painter, and became a faculty member in 1734.

His career accelerated from this point, as he advanced from professor to Rector of the Academy, becoming head of the Royal Gobelin factory in 1755 and finally “Premier Peintre du Roi” (First Painter of the King) in 1765.

Reflecting inspiration gained from the artists Watteau and Rubens, Boucher's early work celebrates the idyllic and tranquil, portraying nature and landscape with great elan. However, his art typically forgoes traditional rural innocence to portray scenes with a definitive style of eroticism, and his mythological scenes are passionate and amorous rather than traditionally epic. Marquise de Pompadour (mistress of King Louis XV), whose name became synonymous with Rococo art, was a great fan of Boucher's, and it is particularly in his portraits of her that this style is clearly exemplified.

Boucher gained lasting notoriety through such private commissions for wealthy collectors and, after the ever-moral

Diderot expressed his disapproval, his reputation came under increasing critical attack during the last of his creative years. Along with his painting, Boucher also designed theatre costumes and sets, and the ardent intrigues of the comic operas of Favart (1710-1792) closely parallel his own style of painting. Tapestry design was also an interest and major activity of his, together with his design activities for the opera and the royal palaces of Versailles, Fontainebleau and Choisy. His designs for all of the aforementioned augmented his earlier reputation, resulting in many engravings from his work and even reproduction of his themes onto porcelain and biscuit-ware at the Vincennes and Sevres factories.

François Boucher died on May 30, 1770 in Paris, France. 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."

About the tapestry

In this tapestry, it is depicting a group of young nobles and children catching birds in the countryside. On the right, we can see two noble ladies with one sitting on the ground while the other holding a string in her hand which connects to an open nest for catching birds. There is a young bod standing and a man looking to the direction of the open nest anxiously. The nest is

placed in the middle of the composition with lively depicted birds flying around it. On the left, two kids are sitting on the ground with a cage, seemingly enjoying themselves with the bird inside of it while ignoring the situation behind them. The foreground is decorated with trees and an old and small building, while in the background we can find the lake in the middle and buildings and a mountain in the background.

The whole tapestry is composed in a grisaille1 manner, it is also can be considered paradigmatic of the taste for scenes galantes2 that largely dominated painting and the decorative arts in eighteenth- century France. Produced at the Beauvais Royal Factory, which was set up in 1665 during the reign of Louis XIV, the carton was by the

1 Grisaille is a monochromic painting applying several levels of gray, from white to black, this technique is usually applied to painting, miniatures and stained glass.

2 “Scenes galates” refers to a pictorial genre that emerged in the early eighteenth century, during the Regency (1715-1723), around the emblematic figure of Antoine Watteau (1684-1721). In country settings with lush vegetation, Watteau depicts the love : dancers, beautiful ladies or shepherds engage in entertainment or confidences.

French painter François Boucher, whose countless images were a major contribution to the factory’s success.

Responding to the rage depicting amorous countryside games by then, François Boucher here portrays the fashionable nobles in the act of catching birds. In the 1700s, small birds played an important symbolic role in courtship ritual: the gift of a caged bird from a man to a woman signified her capture of his heart.

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