Francois Boucher tapestries - Louis XV tapestry art

Francois Boucher tapestries

Francois Boucher tapestries flowed from the prolific work of Louis XV’s court painter who was the dominant force in French art in the second half of the 18th century. Francois Boucher was born in Paris in 1703. (Being born early in a century provides the opportunity to be a dominant force in one’s field for a century, rather than straddling two centures: convenient for the telling of history.) He died in 1770. It was said of him, “Boucher is one of those men who represent the taste of a century, who express, personify and embody it.”

Francois Boucher art

This taste was the French Rococo style. Boucher expressed it in hisThe Triumph of Flora - Francois Boucher tapestries romantic, idyllic country scenes though he was also a portrait artist. Madame de Pompadour, mistress of Louis XV, sat for him several times. There is a distinctly classical element throughout his art, whether the settings were pastoral scenes or formal compositions, combining innocence with a touch of eroticism. A certain voluptuousness shows the influence of Rubens. Mythological themes featured in some of his paintings, some are available now as wall tapestries, such as The Triumph of Flora (right) and The Triumph of Apollo. Some are available now as wall tapestries. In 1765 Boucher was appointed as the King’s Painter and as Director of the Royal Academy.

Francois Boucher tapestries

From 1736, Francois Boucher designed tapestries for the royal workshops at Beauvais until 1755 when he was appointed Director of the royal Gobelins workshops. At Beauvais he designed 45 tapestries in six series including the Noble Pastorale series which are the most commonly available Francois Boucher tapestries. This Louis XV tapestry art showed 18th century idyllic rural scenes with shepherds and shepherdesses or couples in sumptuous silks engaged in romantic pursuits in idealised country landscapes. One can understand Denis Diderot’s criticism of Boucher: “That man is capable of everything—except the truth”. The originals were twelve feet high and up to nineteen feet long so modern weavers have taken details from them and, of course, scaled down the sizes to fit today’s houses rather than royal palaces.

Francois Boucher tapestry - Noble Pastorale - Old Mill

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