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François Boucher (1703-70)

An allegorical design in honour of Jean-Antoine Watteau c. 1728

RCIN 906180

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A winged figure descends, blowing the trumpet of Fame, while to the left the Graces place a wreath on a relief portrait of Watteau, which nestles in the fronds of a huge palm of Victory. Below are an easel, a palette with brushes and a Classical bust, and a winged putto writing on the sarcophagus. Several of the iconographic elements are clearly derived from the etching of the Genius of Castiglione (RCIN 830465) – Castiglione’s prints were greatly esteemed by the artists of the French Rococo.

This drawing is a study, complete in most essentials, for Boucher’s etching that served as the frontispiece to the second volume of Jean de Julienne’s Figures de différents caractères, de Paysages, et d’Etudes dessinées d’après nature par Antoine Watteau (1728), a compendium of prints after the drawings of Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684–1721) then in Julienne’s collection.

Text adapted from Portrait of the Artist, London, 2016