François Boucher (Paris 1703–1770 Paris)
A Reclining Shepherdess (La Bergère au coeur), 1753
Chalk, pastel, and watercolor wash, and possibly traces of graphite on laid paper
15 1/2 × 18 7/8 in. (393.7 × 479.4 mm)
Promised Gift from the Collection of Elizabeth and Jean-Marie Eveillard
Photo Joseph Coscia Jr.
One of the most prominent and prolific painters in France during the reign of Louis XV, Boucher worked across many media and genres, playing a significant role in developing the painted pastoral as a genre in French art. Parisian patrons collected Boucher’s drawings during his life, and he may have made sheets like this as works of art in their own right. The figure relates to a number of the artist’s pastoral paintings, including La Musette (Musée du Louvre), in which the woman is joined by a shepherd and the drawing’s motif of the pierced heart is replaced with a small bagpipe held in the shepherd’s hand—also an amorous symbol. Boucher collaborated with printmakers to disseminate his compositions to a wider clientele, and this composition was translated into a print using the innovative technique of red chalk engraving. To the Goncourt brothers— famed art critics and collectors of the nineteenth century—this was one of the most beautiful studies made by Boucher.